Local News

Flu Vaccine Abundant This Year, Health Experts Say

Posted September 13, 2006 8:43 a.m. EDT

— September means the start of fall and getting ready for flu season. The last couple of years included vaccine shortages and a problem with vaccine distribution, but health experts believe this year will be different.

"We're not anticipating any shortages of vaccine this year. All the lots have already been approved by the (Food and Drug Administration) and they're all in the pipeline. None have been rejected," said UNC infectious disease expert Dr. David Weber.

Flu season usually runs from December to May, peaking in late February and early March. The vaccine is good for eight to 10 months, so a shot now or in October should protect you for the season.

Those most at risk of death from the flu are those who are 65 or older; babies 6 to 23 months of age; people with diabetes, asthma, other chronic illness, or those with a compromised immune system.

Weber said targeting certain age groups for the vaccine can protect others.

"New studies have shown that a large number of adults become ill from young children and so there is a big push to immunize small children 6 months to 49 months," he said.

Health officials said about 36,000 deaths from complications of the flu occur annually in the nation.