First swine flu shots shipped


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The first injectable vaccines against the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus have been shipped, about two weeks earlier than expected.

‘The first truck left today’ from a factory in Swiftwater, Pa., Chris Viehbacher, chief executive of the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis told Reuters.


The vaccine is being shipped to one or more of the four refrigerated warehouses newly opened by McKesson Corp. of San Francisco for storage and distribution of the vaccine. The company will fill orders placed by state and county health departments, shipping the vaccine directly to more than 90,000 distribution centers. Sanofi-Aventis has a contract to provide about 75 million doses of vaccine to the U.S. government, which is providing it free to physicians, health departments and other healthcare providers. Viehbacher did not say how much was being shipped in the first batches.

The intranasal vaccine FluMist has already begun shipping, and at least 3.4 million doses are expected to be in doctors’ offices by Tuesday, Oct. 6. Beginning shortly after that, about 20 million doses of vaccine are expected to become available each week. The government has ordered some 250 million doses of vaccines from six vaccine manufacturers. About 10% of those doses will be sent to developing countries

that do not have access to the vaccines, but health officials say there will be more than enough available for anyone who desires it. In fact, if past experience with the seasonal flu provides any guide, there will be lots of vaccine left over. Typically, only about 40% to 50% of those eligible for seasonal flu shots actually get them. -- Thomas H. Maugh II

The first truckload of swine flu vaccine preapres to leave Sanofi-Aventis’s Swiftwater, Penn. manufacturing plant.

Vials of vaccine are labeled prior to shipping.