Loudoun Healthcare Inc. has suspended its flu vaccination program because of the vaccine shortage caused when British regulators found manufacturing problems at one of the two U.S. suppliers.
Loudoun Healthcare, which runs Loudoun Hospital Center and its mobile health vans, said it was waiting for word from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Virginia Department of Health on how to obtain more vaccine.
Those agencies are trying to find supplies to replace those lost when British authorities suspended the production license of Chiron, a California-based biotech company that manufactures the flu vaccine in England, because of fears of bacterial contamination at a Liverpool plant. The only other manufacturer, Aventis Pasteur, has produced 55.4 million doses, but nearly two-thirds of that supply has already been distributed.
Vaccinations are still available through some physicians and grocery stores. To find the nearest location, visit www.findaflushot.com. The CDC also plans to increase stocks of FluMist, a live-virus vaccine given as a nasal mist, and prescription flu medication that can be targeted in high-risk areas or regions with flu outbreaks.
In an effort to manage the flu vaccine that may be available from other sources, the CDC and state health officials have said priority must be given to people with high risk of complications from the flu.
Those groups include children 6 to 23 months old; children 6 months to 18 years old with chronic medical conditions; those older than 65; people 2 to 64 years old with chronic medical conditions; pregnant women; residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities; and health care workers involved in direct patient care.
Loudoun Healthcare has established a flu update hotline at 703-779-4048.
-- LESLIE SHEPHERD