WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has found 5 million doses of influenza vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline Plc in Germany and ID Biomedical in Canada and is trying to get them for Americans, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said on Thursday.
The Food and Drug Administration is sending inspectors to the company's plants to confirm the doses are safe before they are shipped to the United States, Thompson told reporters.
The new doses would bring to about 66 million the number available for the U.S. market for the influenza season just starting -- about two-thirds of the 100 million hoped for before manufacturer Chiron Corp. lost its license due to contamination at its British vaccine plant.
They would be available by mid-December by the latest, in time for the peak of the influenza season, FDA Commissioner Dr. Lester Crawford said.
"We are dispatching the teams next week," Crawford said. "If all goes well, the vaccines will be available within a few weeks."
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