States ease restrictions on flu shots due to surpluses

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Many states are following the lead of the federal government, which last month began loosening restrictions on the distribution of doses of flu vaccine.

Because decreasing demand has left vaccine surpluses, some 17 states have lifted all previous restrictions on flu shots, according to the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), Washington, DC.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta on Dec. 22 recommended that states with adequate supplies ease flu-shot restrictions and permit vaccinations for anyone 50 and older -- down from the earlier cutoff age of 65 -- and for people in other high-risk groups. However, many states had continued to reserve the vaccine for older adults, infants and people with chronic medical conditions.

While some health officials have recommended that restrictions be lifted nationally, CDC officials said they have no plans do so at this time.

States lifting all flu shot restrictions are: Alaska, California, Colorado, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming, according to ASTHO.