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What Happened to the Flu Vaccine Shortage?

The accompanying graphic is a screen-shot of a logo from the Arizona Department of Health Services, strongly urging residents there to get their flu shots. But according to reports from several states, the demand for flu vaccines, like the weather, has cooled. This less-than-expected demand has prompted at least four states to ease restrictions, and others are considering whether to do the same.

The lower-than-expected demand is being fueled by a mild flu season and also points out the disparity of the flu-vaccine shortage. States that ordered much of their vaccine from Aventis Pasteur, one of the nation's two flu-shot suppliers, appear to be doing better than those that ordered from Chiron Corp.

And, according to some state health officials, many high-risk patients aren't getting shots at all, because they're waiting for fellow high-risk people to make their move first.

All of this news doesn't surprise me at all, considering public health officials were reassuring Americans more than a month ago that getting a flu shot is not a life-or-death matter. Fact is, the very few people in this country who actually die from influenza are already sick and have compromised immune systems.

The ultimate treatment for the flu is proactive prevention, and here's my simple list for keeping it out of your home:

USA Today December 13, 2004

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