"Flu Message" Making Rounds

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Federal health officials urged Mississippians Tuesday to remain calm about the shortage of flu vaccine this year, saying 61 million more doses should arrive in time for the flu season. Officials have expressed concern that some people might panic if they are not able to get a flu shot.

The supply of vaccine was cut by about 48 million doses earlier this year when the British government suspended Chiron Corporation because of contamination problems at its Liverpool, England plant.

But during a news conference in Jackson, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services representatives relayed the "don't panic'' message that was delivered Monday at a Meridian stop.

The officials are on a nationwide tour meant to ease fears of the elderly and others waiting in long lines for flu vaccines.

The next stop on the tour is New Orleans. Officials said an additional 61 million doses should be available by flu season and will be sufficient to cover those at most risk.

In the south, the flu season begins in January. State Department of Health officials say they can't estimate at this time how many doses are going to Mississippi.