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Inside Politics

More flu shots will be available in January

Vaccine being stockpiled for children


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Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson announces Tuesday that more flu vaccine will be coming.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Drug maker Aventis-Pasteur has found an additional 2.6 million doses of flu vaccine that it will deliver to the United States in January, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said Tuesday.

The company had previously said it could provide about 54 million doses to the United States for the current flu season.

The number was well below the 100 million doses needed for the U.S. market, and the shortage sparked long lines of patients seeking the vaccine at health clinics nationwide.

Earlier Tuesday, President Bush reassured a campaign crowd in Florida that the government is working to get flu vaccine to those who need it.

"We have millions of vaccine doses on hand for the most vulnerable Americans, and millions more will be shipped in the coming weeks," Bush said. "We're stockpiling more than 4 million doses of flu vaccine for children."

The president said the government was working with "state and local officials to make sure we distribute vaccines to the most vulnerable Americans throughout our country," and thanked those who didn't get a shot this year so that the vulnerable population would have them.

British authorities stopped production of the flu vaccine by American manufacturer Chiron Corp. in Liverpool on October 5, citing contamination problems.

Chiron had contracted to deliver to the United States 46 million to 48 million doses.

The loss leaves Americans with a total supply of about 54 million doses of vaccine made by Aventis Pasteur, based in Strasbourg, France, and 1 million to 2 million doses of a nasal form of the vaccine called Flumist, made by MedImmune, of Mountain View, California.

The additional 2.6 million vaccines still leave the nation well-short of the optimal amount of vaccines.

The shortage has prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ask that healthy Americans forgo the shots this year to allow people in high-risk groups access to the vaccine.

That group includes people over 65, children ages 6 months to 2 years, pregnant women, people with chronic illnesses and health care workers.

Even members of Congress and their staffs are feeling the crunch.

This year, the Capitol's Office of the Attending Physician received only half of the doses it ordered and has adopted the CDC guidelines about who should get the shot.

"People have been very gracious. They understand," a spokesman for the physician's office told CNN. "We are just about out of [vaccine]. We only received a few hundred doses, and we're following the CDC."

CNN's Sean Gibbons contributed to this report.


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