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Some Chicago Bears players received flu vaccinations despite shortage

Some members of the Chicago Bears received flu shots despite a nationwide shortage of the vaccine.

CHICAGO (AP) _ Some members of the Chicago Bears received flu shots despite a nationwide shortage of the vaccine.

The shots were offered to everyone on the team, but Bears officials said fewer than half of the roughly 60 members received vaccinations, mainly those with ``asthma-type conditions.'' Remaining doses were returned to the distributor.

A local health official described the vaccinations as ``regretful,'' saying he doubted anyone on the team was in a high-risk category.

``I'd like to know why an athlete in top shape is being given a flu shot,'' said Dale Galassie, executive director of the health department in Lake County, north of Chicago, where the team trains.

Some players said they declined the shots, preferring to reserve the vaccine for people at greater risk for severe flu complications.

I didn't get one because with what's going on everywhere, I shouldn't,'' defensive end Michael Haynes said.I don't need one as bad as some people, so I said no.''

The Chicago Bulls also train in the county north of Chicago. Bulls players received the vaccinations Oct. 4 _ one day before the shortage was announced.

We absolutely need them,'' guard Eric Piatkowski said.The way we travel, we're going in and out of cold and warm climates. I won't say we need them more than some 85-year-old person, because obviously we don't. But I'm glad we got them.''

The vaccine shortage was caused when one of the United States' two flu vaccine suppliers, Chiron Corp., was barred from shipping its vaccine because of contamination. That cut almost in half the 100 million doses U.S. officials were expecting.

Healthy Americans were urged to forgo shots so there will be enough for those at highest risk of getting seriously ill from flu. Those at risk include babies and toddlers ages 6 months to 23 months, adults 65 or over, and people with chronic illnesses.

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