News flash – CDC experts say predicting flu pandemics is “a challenge.” Those in the supply chain are all too aware of the challenges posed by flu season. Supply too much, and margins suffer. Supply too little, and not enough get treated.

During the last northern hemisphere flu season, after all, both H1N1 and the seasonal flu fizzled out for reasons not really understood. About 162 million doses of H1N1 vaccine were produced for use by the general public; between 81 million and 91 million were administered, said Stephen Redd, incident commander of the CDC’s H1N1 response, on the teleconference for the annual Richard J. Duma/National Foundation for Infectious Diseases Press Conference and Symposium on Infectious Diseases.

 

Repertoire covers this in August’s upcoming cover story “Turning Uncertainty into a Science.”

With the start of the 2010-2011 flu season, manufacturers and distributors once again attempt to turn uncertainty into a science. And some new factors are at play. First, seasonal flu vaccine will contain an H1N1-like strain. And, second, for the first time, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has issued a universal mass vaccination (UMV) recommendation, which experts expect will lead to greater flu vaccination compliance. “The recommendation means that non-high-risk individuals no longer are encouraged to wait until after October 29 to be vaccinated,” says Patrick M. Schmidt, chief executive officer, FFF Enterprises (Temecula, Calif.). According to ACIP recommendations, everyone six months old and older should get vaccinated, unless they have a medical condition for which flu vaccine is contraindicated. For children under 3 years old, it generally will depend on their pediatrician’s discretion, notes Schmidt.

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