Oct 13, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – Armed with full federal approval for the first time in more than a year, Chiron Corp. says it may start shipping influenza vaccine to US distributors next week.Chiron’s first shipments since contamination problems blocked the company’s vaccine shipments last year could help ease vaccine shortages caused by slow deliveries, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) official said.The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday approved the first three lots of Chiron’s Fluvirn vaccine for shipment, according to company officials. The lots amount to about 1.5 million doses.Chiron spokeswoman Alison Marquiss in Emeryville, Calif., said the company needs to complete its own testing on the three lots before shipping them, which could happen in a few days.”We’re very close to the finish line for these first lots,” she told CIDRAP News. “We’d expect to release them to distributors in the coming days for them to ship to their customers.”In a survey of 120 local health departments last week, all but six reported that vaccine shipments were delayed or orders were not completely filled, according to an Associated Press report today. The survey was done by the National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO).The survey indicated that somewhere between zero and 40% of flu vaccine orders have been filled so far, Curtis Allen of the CDC’s National Immunization Program in Atlanta told CIDRAP News.”A lot depends on who they ordered from and when they ordered it,” Allen said. “Many of those that have ordered from Sanofi [Sanofi Pasteur] have received at least 20% of their orders.” He said Sanofi has been trying to make sure that customers get enough vaccine to cover people who have an increased risk of serious flu complications.With Chiron having received FDA clearance, Allen added, “Hopefully those who have ordered vaccine from Chiron should be getting some soon.”In September the CDC recommended that flu shots be reserved for people in high-risk groups until Oct 24. Despite the delayed deliveries, the agency has no current plans to change that date, Allen said.Contamination problems at Chiron’s Liverpool, England, vaccine plant forced the company in October 2004 to cancel the planned shipment of about 48 million doses to the United States.British authorities restored Chiron’s manufacturing license last March, and the FDA inspected and approved the Liverpool plant in August. In September the FDA approved the company’s vaccine formulation for this year. The agency also must inspect and approve each lot of vaccine before it can be shipped.”The [FDA] release yesterday was the last regulatory step,” said Marquiss.”In the past year we’ve been working on remediating our facility and at the same time producing vaccine for this upcoming season,” she said. “So what we’re doing right now is a step that normally would’ve happened a month ago. We just need to catch up.”As reported previously, Chiron expects to produce between 18 million and 26 million doses of flu vaccine this year, Marquiss said. “Our third-quarter earnings report is October 25, so we hope to have a more concrete number then, or even before then.”She predicted it would take until early December to finish delivering vaccine for this season.Allen said the CDC has not changed its estimate of flu vaccine supplies for this year: 60 million doses from Sanofi Pasteur, 8 million from GlaxoSmithKline, 3 million from MedImmune, and 18 million to 26 million from Chiron. That comes to 89 million to 97 million doses in all, as compared with about 60 million doses made available last year.
Statewide—If saving money made your New Year’s resolution list, start by cutting your energy use, to save money year-round. With some simple lifestyle tweaks, you can trim your energy usage and help keep your 2020 budget in check.Here are ways to monitor and cut your energy use this winter and also avoid billing surprises:7 ways to cut your energy costsReduce your thermostat to the lowest comfortable setting. If you have a heat pump, maintain a moderate setting or use a programmable thermostat specifically designed for use with heat pumps.Leave drapes or blinds open during sunny winter days to allow the sun to warm the house. Close them at night to help insulate your home.Have the heating and air conditioning system checked regularly to maintain performance. Duke Energy offers qualified customers rebates to help offset the cost of replacing older HVAC units with more energy-efficient ones.Replace standard incandescent bulbs with light-emitting diodes (LED). LEDs are more efficient while giving off the same amount of light.Operate ceiling fans in a clockwise direction, which pushes warm air back down into the room.Change air filters regularly. A dirty air filter makes a heating system work harder, which uses more energy.Set your water heater’s thermostat to 120 degrees to help you reduce your monthly water heating bills.5 tips to help manage and understand your billsCheck the number of days in your billing cycle. Most bills are for 30 days, but there are times when the billing cycle is shorter or longer. If there are more days in the bill, your bill total could be higher.Look at “average kilowatt-hour” (kWh) use per day. At first glance, your bill may look higher, but if your average use is similar to the same time last year or in a month with similar extreme temperatures, it’s a normal bill.If you have a smart meter, check online to see if a daily usage analysis tool is available. Smart meters collect usage information by the hour, so checking spikes throughout the month – by day and even hour – can show what appliances and behaviors are increasing your bill.Customers without a smart meter can receive high bill alerts when hotter or colder weather may be causing your bill to trend higher than last month. We send these alerts before you receive your bill – so you can take steps to lower your usage before your bill comes.Customers can also use the Duke Energy app to access and manage your account, making it easier to stay on top of your energy usage and bills. You can also take advantage of our energy- and money-saving products and services.For more information on simple ways to avoid energy bill surprises this winter, click here.