CDC stockpiles influenza vaccine for the first time ever

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For the first time ever, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is stockpiling the flu vaccine, spending $80 million over the next two years for 4 million doses.

"We were caught with our pants down," Dr. Lance Rodewald, head of immunization services with the CDC, said with regards to a particularly harsh 2003-2004 season. "The pressure on CDC to find vaccine was enormous."

CDC officials said they hope this announcement will prompt manufacturers to make more flu shots. Seniors are the hardest hit age cohort each year by the flu. However, an Associated Press article points out that the flu vaccine is good only for the year that it is made and flu shot makers need to find an innovative way to supply the reserve without affecting the regular resource.

While this stockpile will be primarily for children, it may be assigned to adults in an emergency.

About 83.1 million doses of flu shots were distributed in the United States this flu season, the CDC said. According to preliminary data released Tuesday, the CDC suggests about 200,000 Americans are hospitalized with the flu each year, up from previous estimates of 114,000.