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PR- 300-04
November 10, 2004


Additional Doses Should Provide the City with Enough Vaccine to Vaccinate Our Most Vulnerable Residents; City Joins Effort Led by Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden today announced that New York City is securing an additional 200,000 doses of flu vaccine from Europe for New York City residents.  This additional vaccine, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in Germany and Aventis Pasteur in France, was ordered from a licensed British wholesaler through a partnership with Illinois. This additional vaccine will allow virtually every high-risk New York City resident who wants a flu shot to be vaccinated.

"We have been working tirelessly to get the flu vaccine that New York City needs to protect our most vulnerable from what can be a deadly illness,” said Mayor Bloomberg.  “Our Health Department has worked hard to get over a million doses of vaccine into the City and now, with some additional entrepreneurship, we will have on hand the additional doses we need to save lives. I’d like to thank Illinois Governor Blagojevich for partnering with New York City and for his leadership in securing vaccine from abroad."

"The FDA told us that they are committed to working with us to evaluate the flu vaccine we’ve secured so people who need it most can get it as soon as possible.  If they approve our request, nursing home residents, senior citizens, young children in hospitals, and people with suppressed immune systems, can get the flu shots they need,” said Governor Blagojevich.  “And with Mayor Bloomberg on board, we have another powerful force to help make sure that the FDA does the right thing for the people of Illinois, New Mexico, and New York City."

Last week Governor Blagojevich helped the state of New Mexico find 150,000 doses of vaccine to meet its critical need.  Altogether, Illinois has located nearly 650,000 doses of flu vaccine from Europe that can be shipped to the U.S. within hours of FDA approval.

The vaccines manufactured in Germany and France are considered investigational new drugs (IND), but have been approved by European regulatory bodies. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the States purchasing the vaccine are working closely with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to secure approval for use in the United States. Given the track record of these products, the manufacturers, and their approval by the European regulatory authorities, it is expected that FDA approval will be granted expeditiously.

"Flu vaccines save lives.  Working in partnership with Illinois, the FDA, and the CDC, the City will have the 1.4 million doses we need,” said Commissioner Frieden.  “The Health Department is working to quickly distribute the vaccine we already have on hand to nursing homes, doctors’ offices, HIV/AIDS care providers, and to community health centers. To prevent shortages in the future, we will also continue to advocate for long-term changes of federal processes for flu vaccine manufacturing, purchasing and distribution, as well as increased funding and coverage for flu shots."

The Flu Situation in New York City

It is still early in the flu season. There have been two nursing home outbreaks so far this season. Unfortunately, in one of the outbreaks, four people died. This illustrates the vulnerability to serious complications from flu among those in nursing homes and those who are over age 65, and underscores why they are the top priority to be vaccinated. Everyone over the age of 65 should be vaccinated against flu every year, and now, everyone over 65 in New York City who wants to be vaccinated, can be.

The City is making efforts to vaccinate high-risk New Yorkers by:

  • Distributing vaccine to every nursing home that needs it in New York City;
  • Sending vaccine to hospitals and other hcealthcare providers including community clinics, the Visiting Nurse Service, AIDS care clinics, and other health providers who care for those at high risk;
  • Continuing to offer as many as 10,000 doses of vaccine each week through our seven City Health Department clinics, expanded clinic locations, and senior centers. The DOHMH has already vaccinated more people this season than all of last year;
  • Providing up-to-date information on where vaccine is available at City clinics through 311 and online. The City’s Flu Information Line received an unprecedented 7,000 calls in one day at its peak last week - ten times its usual volume for this time of year. Patients should check back with their doctors over the coming 2-3 weeks. There is time over the next month to get vaccinated, as flu season usually doesn’t peak until January.

The Vaccine Situation in New York City

  • 1.4 million doses are needed to vaccinate those at highest risk; 900,000 doses have been received and are in the process of being distributed;
  • The federal government is providing more than 275,000 additional doses of the vaccine between now and January;
  • New York City anticipates receiving 100,000 doses from GSK and 100,000 from Aventis Pasteur pending FDA approval.

Guidelines on Who Should Be vaccinated this Flu Season

DOHMH, along with the CDC and State Health Department, has issued guidelines to the medical community and to the public advising them of which groups must be prioritized this flu season. There are several other steps that should be taken to protect against the spread of the illness. People can help stop the spread of flu by covering your nose and when you cough or sneeze, and staying home from school or work if you're sick with fever and cough. For more information about how to prevent the spread of flu, visit


Edward Skyler / Jordan Barowitz   (212) 788-2958


Sandra Mullin   (Department of Health and Mental Hygiene)
(212) 788-5290

Abby Ottenhoff (Governor Blagojevich)   (312) 814-3158

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