- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 10, 2005

Americans will be able to get flu shots in the next month, although clinics have been canceled because of supply shortages, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said yesterday.

The nation’s four vaccine suppliers are expected to ship 10 million to 12 million vaccine doses by the end of the month, said Dr. Julie Gerberding, CDC director.

The flu season generally runs from November through March.

“More vaccine is coming. We are fortunate the flu season is not off to an early start,” she said.

Part of the reason for the shortage has been late vaccine manufacturing by Chiron Corp. of Emeryville, Calif., Dr. Gerberding said.

Chiron delayed vaccine production this season to make improvements at its Liverpool, England, facility, which produces the U.S. supply, a spokeswoman said. Health officials shut down the facility during the flu season last year.

About 71 million shots have been distributed for this season. Under CDC recommendations, a bulk of those were reserved for the elderly and other high-risk patients.

Although immunization clinics for the public started a few weeks ago, many in the Washington area have been canceled because of vaccine shortages.

Dr. Gerberding urged healthy consumers between the ages of 5 and 49 to wait for the shots or to consider using FluMist, a nasal flu vaccine made by MedImmune Inc., a Gaithersburg biotechnology company.

Chicken eaters fear bird flu

About 47 percent of Americans said they fear they could contract avian influenza from eating infected chicken despite government data showing otherwise.

The poll, which surveyed 1,007 adults nationwide in October, was conducted by Opinion Research Corp., a Princeton, N.J., market research company, and released this week by the Center for Consumer Freedom, a Washington restaurant lobbying group.

The group blamed the fears on media hype and anti-meat campaigns by animal-rights groups.

On its Web site (www.peta.org), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said eating meat threatens millions with bird flu. “Every time you put yourself in contact with or consume animal products, you risk infecting yourself with this or some other deadly virus,” the site said.

The U.S. Agriculture Department last month said poultry infected with the virus poses no human threat if it is cooked properly. The federal agency suspects that undercooked poultry could spread the disease to humans.

KFC announced this week that it has developed a contingency plan in case of a bird-flu outbreak.

The fast-food chicken chain, owned by Louisville, Ky., restaurant company Yum Brands Inc., spent a “nominal” amount on the plan, which focuses on educating consumers about the safety of cooked chicken, spokesman Jonathan Blum said.

The plan, which includes information on in-store tray liners and posters, is available to the chain’s 34,000 sites in 102 countries but has not been activated, he said.

Health Care runs Fridays. Call Marguerite Higgins at 202/636-4892 or e-mail mhiggins@washingtontimes.com.

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