A new law in New Jersey, effective Wednesday, fines providers $500 if they give flu vaccines to people not in high-risk groups.
The law also gives the state health department the power to assess the state's supply and design a course of action to get the severely limited supply of vaccine to those who need it most -- the young, the elderly and people with serious health problems.
The law remains in effect until May 31, 2005.
A spokesman for the New Jersey Hospital Association said there shouldn't be a need for the legislation, considering guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are clear and hospitals and doctors are following them, but the group would support the new law.
A handful of other states impose penalties, including jail time, for misappropriating the vaccine, according to the Associated Press.
The nation's supply of flu vaccine was seriously compromised earlier this month with the shutdown of the Liverpool, England, vaccine-manufacturing plant of Emeryville, Calif.-based Chiron Corp.