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U.S. Nursing Homes Face Seasonal Flu Vaccine Shortage

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In an effort to remedy a shortage of seasonal flu vaccine in nursing homes, U.S. health officials are trying to shift vaccine supplies away from chain pharmacies and supermarkets.

Seniors are highly vulnerable to seasonal flu, and a shortage of flu shots could lead to a wave of deaths in nursing homes this winter, The New York Times reported.

Exact figures aren't available, but the vaccine shortage in nursing homes is "a very big problem," said Janice Zalen, director of special programs for the American Health Care Association, which represents 11,000 nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

"It's a problem, and it's all over the country," agreed Dr. Carol Friedman, head of adult immunization at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Times reported.

People 65 and older account for more than 90 percent of the 36,000 Americans who die of seasonal flu in an average year. Flu outbreaks in nursing homes are particularly deadly.

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