State Alters Flu Vaccine Distribution Plan

OCTOBER 7, 2004 - Posted at 7:48 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The state Health Department has altered its flu vaccine distribution plan, citing new guidelines received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The federal agency released them yesterday, a day after the nation's flu vaccine supply was cut in half.

The Arkansas Department of Health said that its supply of the vaccines will first go to those who need it most, including: all children ages six to 23 months, adults over age 65, people with chronic medical conditions, all pregnant women, residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities, children on chronic aspirin therapy, health care workers in direct patient care and out-of-home caregivers and people in contact with children who are less than six months old.

The United States had expected a record 100 million doses of flu vaccine.  But British regulators unexpectedly shut down a second supplier, Chiron Corporation.  That held up the 46 million doses destined for the United States.

Representative Mike Ross said the nation's current system of having independent companies provide flu vaccines is inconsistent and unacceptable.  Ross said that he met with Pentagon officials to talk about creating a government-owned vaccine production facility near the Pine Bluff Arsenal.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)