TAMPA, Fla. — Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said Monday that enough flu vaccine would be available for most people who needed it and senior citizens should stop standing in long lines to get a shot.
"We want people to relax," Thompson said at a news conference. "The flu season is not here."
Seniors around the country have been standing in lines at shopping plazas to get flu shots since news of a shortage surfaced this month. British regulators shut down shipments from Chiron Corp., which had made millions of flu shots earmarked for the U.S. market. The shutdown cut the U.S. supply of flu shots almost in half.
Thompson said the flu vaccine supply would be reallocated to parts of the country where it was needed most. Seniors and very young children are most at risk for severe complications from the flu.
"We are looking all over the regions to find out where there is a shortage, and we will redeploy the resources to make sure the seniors get the vaccine first," he said. He noted that 91% of flu deaths last year were people 65 or older.