The Flu Snafu

A vaccine shortfall grows into a political headache. Who is really to blame? And what is the cure?

It isn't hard to understand how the U.S. wound up with a major shortage of flu shots this year. Making the vaccine is notoriously difficult, and the process is prone to production problems and manufacturing delays. In addition, only two companies--Chiron and Aventis Pasteur--were licensed to produce the injections for the U.S. market, compared with five in Britain, six in France and eight in Germany. When Chiron had to withdraw 48 million doses of vaccine in early October because of contamination problems, the remaining 55 million or so doses being made by Aventis simply weren't enough to satisfy everyone who wanted...

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