CDC makes flu vaccine plans for most at-risk people this fall

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Federal officials will recommend flu vaccination only for high-risk U.S. residents when flu season arrives again in fall.

They will then expand distribution of doses for less risky populations once the needs of the most vulnerable are met, according to the officials, who spoke at a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations this week.

The Centers for Disease Control is making contingency plans in case another flu vaccine shortage occurs this season. It currently expects the number of doses available this flu season to total from 75 million to 83 million. Such a situation would represent a "middle case" scenario. Even in a "worst case" scenario of 53 million doses, the CDC believes the most vulnerable would get vaccine.

Flu vaccine maker Chiron has made progress in its efforts to reopen its Liverpool, England, manufacturing facility, testified Jesse Goodman, director of the Food and Drug Administration's center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

The factory was closed last October due to contamination fears. A shortage ensued in the United States because Chiron could not produce half of the U.S. supply for the season as expected. British regulators have given Chiron the green light to begin producing vaccine at the plant, but it is too early to determine whether the FDA will grant Chiron approval to make vaccines for the U.S. supply.