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30 Million Doses of Influenza Vaccine Shipped to Health Care Providers

SWIFTWATER, Pa., Oct. 4 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Aventis , part of the sanofi-aventis Group, announced today that the company has shipped more than 30 million doses of its influenza vaccine, Fluzone®, Influenza Virus Vaccine, for the upcoming season. Aventis Pasteur, the human vaccines business of Aventis, is on schedule to achieving the company's goal of providing Fluzone vaccine to all its customers in time for the orderly immunization of consumers. These doses represent the largest shipment of influenza vaccine by any manufacturer for this influenza season.

"Aventis Pasteur is once again pleased to provide on-schedule delivery of influenza vaccine, allowing health-care providers to begin immunizing patients - especially those at greatest risk for influenza-related complications - early during the immunization season," said Jim Robinson, vice president of industrial operations for Aventis Pasteur in the U.S.

Aventis Pasteur began to ship Fluzone vaccine in August, one month earlier than the company originally informed customers. Earlier shipments became possible due to a strong production year. The company estimates it will produce more than 52 million doses of Fluzone vaccine for the 2004-05 influenza season.

The 2004-05 influenza vaccine formulation contains the A/Fujian/411/2002 (H3N2)-like, A/New Caledonia/20/99 (H1N1)-like and B/Shanghai/361/2002-like strains. The three strains for the new influenza vaccine formulation were confirmed by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Center for Biologics Evaluation & Research, Vaccines & Related Biological Products Advisory Committee in March 2004. The FDA's decision corresponds with recommendations made by the World Health Organization in February. Influenza vaccine is reformulated each year to match the strain predicted to circulate in the coming season.

For the first time, influenza immunization is now recommended for healthy children aged 6 through 23 months. These children have been found to be at increased risk for influenza-related hospitalizations. Children younger than 9 years of age receiving influenza vaccine for the first time require two doses, one month apart. The vaccine is also recommended for household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of all children younger than 24 months.

Other groups that have been identified as being at risk for developing serious influenza-related complications include the elderly, pregnant women and adults and children with chronic diseases, such as asthma and diabetes. Influenza vaccination is also recommended for those 50 to 64 years of age, household contacts of at-risk individuals and health-care workers who care for at-risk patients.

All other healthy individuals under age 50 and anyone who wishes to decrease their risk of influenza infection are also encouraged to seek vaccination.

Aventis Pasteur has established a waiting list of providers who request new or additional influenza vaccine shipments. Health-care providers can place their name on the waiting list via the company's Web site at http://www.vaccineshoppe.com/ or by calling 1-800-VACCINE (1-800-822-2463).

Safety Information

The most common side effects from influenza vaccine are pain and swelling at the vaccination site that can last up to two days. Some people may have mild fever, myalgia (muscle aches), or feel tired for a day or two after receiving the influenza vaccine. Other systemic reactions can occur.

Injectable influenza vaccine is made from killed strains of the viruses predicted to be the main causes of influenza in the coming season. Because the viruses are killed, it is impossible to get influenza from the vaccine. People who have had previous reactions to the vaccine or people who are allergic to eggs (the viruses used in the vaccine are grown in eggs), egg products, or thimerosal should not receive influenza vaccine. Persons with acute febrile illness usually should not be vaccinated until their symptoms have abated. However, minor illnesses with or without fever do not contraindicate the use of influenza vaccine, particularly among children with mild upper respiratory tract infection or allergic rhinitis.

For full prescribing information, see the package insert at http://www.us.aventispasteur.com/.

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