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Distribution of Flu Vaccines Unpredictable

On the other hand SMMC Visiting Nurses of Kennebunk is relying heavily on one manufacturer that has yet to deliver half of its order. The agency has had to postpone its weekday flu shot clinics and limit vaccines to sicker and older patients.

"They say there's plenty of vaccine, but people are anxious that they're not going to get a shot, and that's a shame," said Executive Director Elaine Brady.

The CDC has assured that orders will be filled faster this year because manufacturers are reporting good progress in vaccine production, unlike in past years.

The formula for the vaccine is different every year, and production rarely begins before the year of the flu season. It takes months to grow the vaccine in chicken eggs and test its safety. One manufacturer, Sanofi pasteur, said that its vaccine was taking longer than usual to produce.

According to health experts said people should not panic if they get their shots later than usual. The flu season typically does not peak until February or later.

"It's been recommended that we keep immunizing through January. Patients who haven't gotten the flu shot by that point could still be protected," said Dr. Don Burgess of the Maine chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The flu is responsible for more than 20,000 deaths in the United States every year. The vaccine is recommended especially for people 50 and older, the chronically ill, pregnant women and children so that the chances of death and complications are reduced considerably.


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