U.S. Squeezes Out A Few Million More Flu Vaccines

U.S. health officials, stung by political attacks after losing 40 percent of the flu shot supply, got a small break on Tuesday as one vaccine supplier announced it had squeezed out an extra 2.6 million doses. But the firestorm over blame for the loss of 40 million doses, which has prompted lines of worried elderly people at pharmacies across the country, raged on with just two weeks to go before the presidential election. President Bush told senior citizens in Florida that he was doing all he could to ensure they get flu shots and accused his Democratic rival, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, of playing fear politics by raising the vaccine shortage. The extra production announced by vaccine maker Aventis-Pasteur will give the United States a total 58 million influenza shots this season, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson told a news conference. With MedImmune’s 2 million doses of inhaled FluMist vaccine, this provides 60 million doses total for the year, he said. But the country is still far short of the 100 million doses that had been planned, after Chiron Corp. lost the license for a British vaccine plant on Oct. 5.