Supplies of flu vaccine dwindling in Alaska

Posted: Wednesday, December 10, 2003

ANCHORAGE - The state Department of Health & Social Services on Tuesday recommended that health-care providers target their remaining supplies of influenza vaccine to people at the greatest risk for severe complications from the flu.

Alaska is one of at least 13 states with a widespread flu outbreak, the highest designation given by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state health department said its recommendation was prompted by unusually high demand for the vaccine this year that has caused a national shortage.

This year, manufacturers made 83 million doses of flu vaccine. Supplies ran short in some parts of the country as the early and intense outbreak in Western states increased demand. The CDC said Tuesday it is working to redistribute remaining U.S. supplies and may buy fewer than 500,000 more doses from a British maker.

Remaining vaccine supplies should be targeted for children ages 6 months through 23 months; people 65 and older, and people of any age with chronic health conditions such as diabetes and asthma or with weakened immune systems, said Doug Bruce, director of the Alaska Division of Public Health.

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