Large Surplus of Flu Vaccine

ByABC News via logo
January 29, 2005, 8:45 AM

Jan. 29, 2005 -- -- A few months ago, there was widespread panic about not having enough flu vaccines to go around. Now, there are plenty of shots for anyone who wants one -- and health officials are encouraging people to take advantage.

Jeanne Santoli, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Immunization Program, says it is never too late in the flu season for a shot. Flu season usually reaches its peak around February and can go on through March or later, she adds.

"It takes about two weeks to be fully protected," Santoli said. "So we don't want people to delay. We'd like them to go out right now and get their flu shot."

The government initially imposed restrictions on the flu shot after a major supplier shut down its plant in England, cutting the U.S. vaccine supply in half.

However, this flu season has been mild, with only 10 states reporting major flu outbreaks, leaving many states with extra vaccines.

Apparently, some people felt discouraged by the early restrictions from getting their vaccine because of the prospect of long waits at the clinic.

All of this has created a surplus of the flu shot and millions of doses may now go to waste. As a result, the CDC has decided to lift most of their restrictions on the flu shot.

Santoli says the flu and the length of the season are unpredicatable, so the government needs to have additional suppliers ready to avert another shortage.

If you want more information on the flu vaccine and its availability, go to