For the 185 million people nationwide who face serious health risks during the flu season each year, a potential crisis developed last fall when the United States found itself facing a shortage of flu vaccinations.
The nation’s supply of the vaccine was severely constricted on Oct. 5 when British health officials suspended Chrion Corporation’s manufacturing license for three months. The Liverpool-based company is the world’s second largest flu vaccination producer and supplies about half of U.S. flu vaccinations.
In response, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued guidelines establishing priority groups who should receive the nation’s remaining vaccines.
They included children between six and 23 months, adults over 65 years old, all persons with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, and health care workers.
The U.S. Department of Defense issued a memorandum on Oct. 13 stating that vaccinations would also be given to the “critical operational forces who are conducting the Global War on Terror.”
“All health providers and hospitals have been asked to focus on high-risk individuals.” said University Health Services (UHS) Director David S. Rosenthal ’59 at the time.
During the 2003-2004 school year, UHS gave between 11,000 and 12,000 flu shots, according to Rosenthal.
“This year, we expected a demand of 13,000 and ordered 14,000 flu vaccinations,” he said. “We didn’t get the 7,000 from Chiron.”
The other 7,000, ordered from Aventis, arrived on schedule.
Rosenthal said that UHS could not obtain more vaccinations because “the margin of profit in this type of business is very small.”
Only four companies worldwide produce flu vaccines.
CDC spokesman Curtis L. Allen said flu vaccine production, which may take at least six months, can be a tricky business because it requires predicting demand in advance each year.
“185 million doses should be given out a year,” he said. “In 2002, 95 million doses were produced, but companies only sold 83 million. At 10 dollars a dose, that’s over $100 million lost in revenue.”
Due to CDC regulations, UHS was required to sell a portion of vaccinations to the state; it donated additional units to the city of Cambridge.
Crista Martin, Harvard University Dining Services’ (HUDS) assistant director of marketing, said HUDS did its part by rotating available utensils every 20 minutes, supplying hand sanitizer to students, and posting signs reminding students to wash their hands.
UHS Helps Students Fend Off FluAs another frigid flu season draws near, University Health Services (UHS) hopes to help students stave off the annual menace.
UHS To Limit Flu VaccinationsAs the result of a nationwide flu vaccine shortage, University Health Services (UHS) will only give shots this year to
Dining Halls Aim to Stop FluStudents are still unlikely to have access to University Health Services’ (UHS) limited batch of flu vaccines this year after
UHS Sells Vaccine Doses to BostonUniversity Health Services (UHS) sold 2,000 units of flu vaccine to the Boston Public Health Commission in October to help
Flu Vaccines Face LimitsAs University health officials inoculate members of the Harvard community against the flu this month, they say they’re not expecting