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Adequate vaccine, slow start to season-but influenza nonetheless fixes attention

As 2005 draws to a close, media stories about influenza continue to frighten the public. This is the case despite assurances of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that actual cases of flu are, so far, few this season, and that supplies of flu vaccine are ample.

As of late November, patient visits for influenza-like illness and deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza were below baseline levels. The total vaccine supply, according to what manufacturers tell the CDC, should be more than 80 million doses-far greater than the 61 million available last year.

So your colleagues should have no difficulty obtaining vaccine for their patients-unless they were unfortunate enough to have ordered from Chiron, the manufacturer that recently announced it would not be able to make as many doses of its influenza vaccine as it had promised. Keep up to the minute on this situation by consulting the CDC Web page devoted to flu: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/.

You can reassure worried parents about the following:

For now? Keep giving flu vaccinations, make sure you take one yourself, and tell parents to keep calm!

Ms. Asch-Goodkin is a contributing editor for Contemporary Pediatrics. She has nothing to disclose in regard to affiliations with, or financial interests in, any organization that may have an interest in any part of this article.