US aims to 'take flu off the table' in preparation for second wave of coronavirus

Drugmakers are making millions of extra flu shots this year in preparation for a possible second wave of COVID-19 during the annual flu season, and in a rare move, the CDC has bought 7 million doses directly from them, The Washington Post reported. 

The CDC usually buys about 500,000 doses of the flu shot to distribute to states, but has spent $100 million to buy 7 million doses and has given $140 million to immunization programs across the U.S. to boost adult flu vaccination. 

"This is a big move," CDC Director Robert Redfield said. 

Drugmakers are planning to boost production by about 10 percent to make 189 million doses this year, up from 170 million last year. Public health experts are expecting an "unprecedented" number of people to get a flu shot this year, according to the Post

Experts have said lowering the number of people who catch the flu could free up critical hospital space to handle a potential second wave of COVID-19. Health officials are especially concerned about people at higher risk for both COVID-19 and the flu, the Post reported, such as residents and employees at long-term care facilities, African Americans, Hispanics and people with comorbidities. 

"We want to take flu off the table, in every way possible, make flu a nonfactor,” LJ Tan, chief strategy officer of the Immunization Action Coalition, told the Post

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