Half of U.S. Flu Vaccine

To Be Late to Market

About half the doses of this season's influenza vaccine will be several weeks to a month late arriving on the market, health officials said yesterday.

The European drugmaker Chiron recently detected contamination in several batches of flu vaccine made at its plant in Liverpool. The company is holding back about 48 million doses for testing, with plans to deliver them in early October unless further problems are found.

About 100 million doses of flu vaccine are expected to be available in the United States this fall and winter. Chiron and another European company, Aventis, each make about half the supply. Aventis will deliver about 20 million doses in September, and the rest of its share in October, said Julie L. Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Unless Chiron discards a large portion of its production, this season's flu vaccine supply will be the largest ever. CDC has added children 6 months to 2 years of age to the population groups that should get flu shots. The others include people over 50; those with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes or emphysema; health care workers; and family members of people at increased risk of flu complications.

9/11-Themed Toys

Found in Candy Bags

MIAMI -- Small toys showing an airplane flying into the World Trade Center were packed inside some of more than 14,000 bags of candy bound mostly for small grocery stores around the country before being recalled.

Lisy Corp., the wholesaler that distributed the candy, said the toys were purchased sight unseen in bulk from L&M Import in Miami. In addition to toys depicting the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the twin towers, the shipment included whistles and other small toys, said Luis Padron, Lisy's national sales manager. The invoice said the toy was a plastic swing set.

"I hate to blame the importer. He probably did not know what he was getting. . . . But whoever made it knew exactly what they were making," Padron said.

Padron said Lisy did not notice the small plastic figurines until two people complained, but there is no mistaking what the toys represent: At the bottom of each is the product number 9011.

"When we found out what happened, we recalled them immediately," said Padron, who said the toys made in China do not reflect his company's view. "I was offended by them."

The candy bags were distributed by the company's 100 distributors. Most are sold to small Hispanic and Mexican groceries, Padron said. He said 448 of the toys left the warehouse for distribution.

* COLUMBIA, S.C. -- A tropical depression formed southeast of the Carolinas, prompting a storm watch south to the Georgia-Florida state line. The depression was 140 miles southeast of Charleston, S.C., with maximum sustained winds of 30 mph. It was nearly stationary, but forecasters expected the storm to drift slowly westward. It was predicted to come ashore near Charleston late Saturday and move to the northeast across the Carolinas, which could receive three to five inches of rain in coastal areas.

* OXFORD, Miss. -- A fire swept through the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house at the University of Mississippi, killing three students during the first week of classes, school officials said. Twenty other students and a house mother escaped.

* REDDING, Calif. -- William Matthew Rupp, 44, was charged with felony arson for allegedly disregarding the risk of wildfire while using a riding lawn mower to cut dry grass on a hot day. Sparks from the mower burned 11,000 acres and destroyed 86 houses.

* ANACONDA, Mont. -- A cracked exhaust pipe on a heater caused a carbon monoxide leak that sickened 30 male students in a dormitory at a jobs center, leaving some unconscious and others suffering convulsions, authorities said.

* AUSTIN -- A group of Rio Grande Valley irrigators and farmers is seeking $500 million from Mexico for crop loss and other damages the group says were caused by that country's failure to comply with a water-sharing treaty.

* DETROIT -- A construction platform fell as four workers were painting a highway overpass, killing one man and critically injuring three others, police said. The four were not wearing safety harnesses, authorities said.

-- From News Services