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Since the outbreak of Swine Flu (H1N1 virus) last year, there has been much concern about a global pandemic. In the United States, the Department of Health and Human Services along with the Centers for Disease Control worked feverishly to develop a vaccine for the virus and get it into production. The cycle times for this year’s vaccines are about a month faster than normal, but there are concerns that this is not fast enough should there be a serious viral outbreak. In addition, many consumers express concerns about shortages and the safety of vaccines because viruses are grown in egg cultures.

QUESTIONS:

  1. What measures of productivity are being used to evaluate flu vaccine production?
  2. What type of manufacturing technology is utilized to produce flu vaccines? What are the characteristics of the flu vaccine (once developed) that lend itself to this type of production?
  3. While the government is investing in alternative methods for developing vaccines, it appears that using egg cultures is the only viable option at present. What work process technique could be used to improve performance and delivery of flu vaccines?

SOURCE: J. Schmit, “Flu Vaccine Rush Puts Focus on Calls for Faster Delivery,” USA Today (Retrievable online at http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-10-08-flu-vaccines_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip)

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