Some people may not get flu shots

Federal health officials scrambled yesterday to secure more &to=http:// ' target=_blank>flu shots as lines of seniors and others most vulnerable to the illness grew at the few San Diego County retail sites offering the scarce vaccine.

Meanwhile, U.S. &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Food and Drug Administration representatives are flying to England, where 48 million doses from one of the two major vaccine suppliers, Chiron Corp., were held up because of contamination.

That was roughly half of the 102 million adult doses that had been expected in the United States this fall, San Diego Union Tribune reported.

According to Reuters, U.S. and British drug regulators met Thursday to discuss the closing of a flu-vaccine plant in northern England that has triggered an international vaccine shortage -- but there was no immediate resolution of the crisis.

Britain's Medicines and &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) revoked Chiron Corp's flu vaccine license earlier this week because of bacterial contamination at the plant in Liverpool.

Now U.S. officials are trying to find out if all 48 million doses from the factory destined for the United States this year will be kept off the market.

A spokeswoman for the MHRA declined to divulge details of the talks between MHRA officials and a visiting team of experts from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but said the blanket ban remained in place for now.

In late August, Chiron announced it had found tainted doses at its factory. The company's chief executive, Howard Pien, said it would hold up shipment of about 50 million shots half the supply U.S. health officials hoped to have on hand this year while it investigated what went wrong and determined whether the vaccine was safe to use.

Pien said the company still hoped to ship between 46 million and 48 million doses by early October, about a month later than usual. He said in conference calls with analysts and reporters Tuesday that said "human error" apparently led to the tainted shots.

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