H1N1 Swine Flu Down, Not Out
Deaths Still High as Low-Level Flu Spread Continues
Daniel J. DeNoon
WebMD Health News
Louise Chang, MD
Feb. 5, 2010 -- H1N1 swine flu is no longer widespread in any state, but new
infections continue and the death rate remains high, the CDC reported
A Harvard poll shows that about half of Americans believe the H1N1 swine flu outbreak is over, and only a third remain concerned. That may explain why three
in four U.S. residents still haven't been vaccinated against the pandemic
virus, despite now-plentiful vaccine supplies.
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CDC figures clearly show that the fall/winter wave of H1N1 swine flu has
long passed its peak. The number of people seeing a doctor about flu symptoms
has for three weeks hovered just below epidemic levels.
Yet for the same three weeks, deaths from pneumonia and influenza have been
above what CDC calculates to be the seasonal "epidemic threshold."
While flu isn't the cause of all these deaths, this figure -- and reports of
nine new pediatric swine flu deaths in the last week of January -- are
troubling reminders that H1N1 swine flu continues to infect, sicken, and even
kill susceptible people.
"This virus is still around," CDC respiratory disease chief Anne Schuchat,
MD, said at a news conference. "People are being hospitalized and are dying.
... The virus is still spreading and those not who have not been vaccinated
still are vulnerable."
Schuchat admits that there may not be another huge wave of H1N1 swine flu
infections. But she noted that ongoing spread means cases "really can add up
A CDC survey conducted in the last week of January found that about 70
million U.S. residents -- 23.4% of the population -- have been vaccinated with
the 2009 H1N1 vaccine. Extensive data on the first 61 million doses
administered indicate that the vaccine is safe.
The Harvard poll, conducted Jan. 20-24, shows that over half of parents
either got their children vaccinated or plan to do so by the end of
However, the CDC survey shows that only 37% of children who got a first dose
of the vaccine got their second dose. Without a second dose, a child remains
"I urge parents to take their kids back for their second dose," Schuchat
said. "It would be tragic for you to go so far to do the right thing and then
have your child get sick."
Since vaccine distribution began, 124 million doses of the vaccine have been
shipped around the U.S. At least 155 million doses will be made available in
the U.S., which has enough bulk vaccine to make 229 million doses.
SOURCES: Anne Schuchat, MD, director, National Center for Immunization and
Respiratory Diseases, CDC.
News release, Harvard School of Public Health.
Harvard School of Public Health: "H1N1 Flu Vaccination January Poll."
CDC: "2009-2010 Influenza Season Week 4 Ending January 20, 2010," Feb. 5, 2010.
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