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Flu-Shot Clinics Are Canceled

November 08, 2005|From Bloomberg News

Maxim Healthcare Services Inc. said it canceled 3,500 flu-shot clinics it offered through retailers, citing a shortage of vaccine.

The cancellations started Monday, the Columbia, Md.- based company said. Drugstore chains CVS Corp., Longs Drug Stores Corp. and Walgreen Co. and grocery store operator Albertsons Inc. are among the retailers affected.

More customers are demanding flu shots this year as a result of shortages last year and concern now about the spread of avian influenza, said Steve Wright, who runs Maxim's inoculation services. The company ordered as many as 3 million shots from Paris-based Sanofi-Aventis and hasn't received its entire order yet, he said.

"Demand this year is 30% to 40% higher," Wright said. "It was a 70-million-dose market last year, but it may be an 80- or 90- or 100-million-dose market now."

Maxim also provides flu shots at workplaces. Those have been postponed, Wright said.

Last year, the U.S. flu shot supply was cut in half after Chiron Corp. was forced to shut a plant in Britain because of contamination.

U.S. health officials said last month that they expected to have at least 70 million doses of flu vaccine available for the 2005-to-2006 flu season, now underway.

Longs Drug Stores will offer MedImmune Inc.'s Flumist, a flu vaccine administered as a nasal spray, at 172 locations, said Farra Levin, a spokeswoman for Longs.

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