Agencies Working to Keep Vaccine, Flu Meds Available

Influenza hospitalization rates have increased sharply for people age 65 and older this month according to CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden.  He says the elderly tend to be more vulnerable to complications.

The CDC is recommending older Americans and anyone with medical conditions that put them at a higher risk seek anti-viral medications within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. Dr. Frieden says the drugs are effective is helping to avoid serious complications from the flu.

Dr. Frieden says people who have not been vaccinated should still consider a flu shot.  He says there have been spot shortages, but there is still vaccine available. He says the original projection was that 135 million doses would be needed for the season. Not all doses have been used and manufacturers have about 10 million more doses- a total of 145 million- for the season.  People who are having trouble finding a place to get vaccinated can check availability on line.

The rate of treatment with anti-viral medications has been lower than expected.  The Food and Drug Administration is working to make sure medicine is available for all who need it.

Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg says some temporary spot shortages have been reported of the liquid suspension of Tamiflu for children. The administration is taking steps to get more doses of a capsule for adults on the market.  It can also be reformulated for children if needed.  The manufacturer has been cleared to release it in outdated packaging and pharmacists are being notified that some instructions to not up to date.