Although 4 million doses of the flu vaccine appear to be tainted, US officials are confident that there will not be a flu shot shortage. In August, Chiron Corp, which supplies half the nation's flu vaccine, reported that factory tests had shown that some batches were tainted and that all 50 million doses the company was producing would be held up for additional safety tests.
"This is not a crisis," said Julie Gerberding, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "We'll end up having more vaccine doses than we've ever had before. Ultimately, all people who need flu vaccine should be able to get their shots," she said, as reported in the Washington Times, August 29, 2004.
Chiron still plans to ship 46 million to 48 million doses by early October, a month ahead of schedule, and 2 million more for the federal government's emergency stockpile, according to John Vavricka, the company's vice president of commercial operations for North America. Dr. Gerberding said that the stockpile is new this year and will contain 4.5 million doses.
Aventis Pasteur, the nation's other big producer, reported that federal officials asked the company to produce additional vaccine to cover any shortfalls. The company, however, is already operating at full capacity and cannot manufacture more until after November, when existing orders are filled. Aventis anticipates shipping 52 million doses, 9 million more than last year.