On Monday, after Blagojevich announced that Illinois had located its
own supply of flu vaccine from wholesalers in Europe, American
Airlines and the governor's office began discussing how to ship the
supply from the United Kingdom to Illinois. By late Tuesday evening,
American Airlines agreed to ship the entire supply -- free of charge
-- to help Illinois provide vaccine to its citizens most vulnerable
to the flu. As a result of American's offer, the flu vaccines
secured by Blagojevich can be transported to Illinois immediately
upon approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
"In a time of crisis, some people and
some companies rise to the occasion. That's clearly what American
Airlines has done today," Blagojevich said. "By agreeing to ship our
entire supply of flu vaccine to Illinois the minute the FDA gives
its approval, American will help make sure that hundreds of
thousands of senior citizens, young children and the chronically ill
will get the flu shots they need, before the flu season arrives."
"When we heard that Illinois was in
a position to provide flu vaccine for so many people in need, we
wanted to do whatever we could to help," said Roger Frizzell, vice
president for corporate communications for American Airlines.
"Illinois is important to American Airlines, and the people of
Illinois are important to American Airlines. We're going to make
sure that their flu vaccine gets to Illinois quickly and safely."
After securing enough flu vaccine to
cover Illinois' most vulnerable populations and after receiving the
donation of transportation from American Airlines, all that stands
in the way of providing the vaccine to people who need it is
approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Blagojevich
said he hopes to receive FDA approval by the end of the week.
The United States is facing a severe
flu vaccine shortage as a result of problems found with doses
produced by Chiron Corp., a manufacturer that was expected to
produce nearly half of the 100 million doses needed for U.S.
residents. Now the United States has only the 55 million doses of
vaccine manufactured by its other supplier, the French drug maker
Aventis Pasteur, to meet its entire demand, creating the shortage
facing Illinois and every other state.
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The vaccine Gov. Blagojevich is
seeking permission to use was manufactured by Aventis Pasteur in its
facility in Lyon, France, for use in Canada and Europe. The vaccine
is already packaged and can be shipped to Illinois and put to use
within days -- in enough time to reduce the impact of the flu virus
this winter in hundreds of thousands of sick, elderly and young
The FDA announced recently that it
has asked Aventis Pasteur to manufacture an additional 2.6 million
doses of vaccines to address shortages across the United States, but
the new shots are not expected to be ready until January. Flu season
in Illinois lasts from November to April, peaking in January and
February. State health officials encourage the elderly and young
children to get vaccinated early in the winter to allow the vaccine
at least two weeks to become effective before peak season.
Gov. Blagojevich was able to quickly
find the European vaccine by using the state's contacts with
prescription drug suppliers in Europe who are providing medications
for Illinois residents through the new I-SaveRx program. Blagojevich
and Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle launched I-SaveRx to help the nearly 13
million residents of Illinois and more than 5 million residents of
Wisconsin save 25 percent to 50 percent on the cost of their
prescription drugs. Illinois and Wisconsin residents can enroll in
I-Save Rx by calling 1 (866) ISAVE33 or visiting
[News release from the