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Inspectors can't vouch for safety of flu vaccine

Jamie Neiger, left, and Erika Brunner, fill syringes of flu vaccine in Scottsbluff, Nebraska on Tuesday.
Jamie Neiger, left, and Erika Brunner, fill syringes of flu vaccine in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, Tuesday.

The CDC released its list of those deemed at highest risk:

  • children ages 6-23 months
  • people over 65
  • people ages 2-64 years with chronic medical conditions
  • all women who will be pregnant during flu season
  • residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities
  • children 6 months to 18 years of age on chronic aspirin therapy
  • health-care workers involved in patient care out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children younger than six months.
    Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
    Chiron Corporation
    Flu Season

    (CNN) -- None of the influenza vaccine produced by Chiron Corp. in its Liverpool, England plant is salvageable, the Food and Drug Administration announced Friday.

    A recent FDA inspection of the plant found "good manufacturing practice violations," Commissioner Dr. Lester Crawford said.

    Public health inspectors now say they cannot vouch for the safety of any of the doses.

    British authorities shut down production at Chiron's Liverpool plant after investigating possible bacterial contamination.

    The shortfall in flu vaccine -- roughly half the U.S. supply -- means there will not be enough for those most at risk of infection this flu season.

    In August, the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discovered problems with some of the 44 million to 46 million vaccines produced by Chiron.

    The CDC this week asked those who do not meet the criteria -- mostly healthy people between the ages of 2 and 64 -- to forgo vaccinations this year.

    "There will be some people who may not be able to get vaccine who really need it," CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding told reporters during a conference call Tuesday.

    People advised to get the vaccine include those older than 65 years of age, people with chronic diseases, residents of nursing homes, health-care workers, pregnant women and infants between the ages of six and 23 months.

    The restricted definition of who should receive priority for flu vaccine applies to an estimated 42 million to 52 million people.

    The public health agency hopes to direct limited vaccine supplies to people who stand to benefit the most, Gerberding said.

    The CDC is depending on voluntary responses and has received "wonderful reports of people stepping aside to protect the doses for those who need them the most," said Gerberding.

    Those who do not receive the vaccine can help prevent infections by washing their hands, covering their mouth when they sneeze and avoiding close contact with people infected by the virus.

    Since October 5, when Chiron Corp., one of the nation's two major suppliers of flu vaccine, announced it could not deliver flu vaccine this year over fears of contamination, the government has scrambled to determine who should receive the 55 million doses expected to be available in the United States.

    Nearly all the rest of the flu vaccine is manufactured by Aventis-Pasteur, Gerberding said.

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