ABC's Lisa Chinn reports:
Flu is widespread in 37 states, with 76 pediatric deaths since the advent of the H1N1 virus in April. 19 pediatric deaths were reported just this week — the deaths occurred between July 19 and October 3rd. A pediatric death is defined by the CDC as children under the age of 18. Most flu being seen throughout the country is of the H1N1 variety. The number of pediatric deaths is particularly striking. In the past three years, the total number of pediatric deaths during the entire flu season ranged from 46 to 88.
The CDC believes that the vast majority of Americans are vulnerable to the flu, even in communities that have been hard hit before. Responding to the New York Times article earlier this week that discussed the possibility of a ‘natural’ immunity in places like New York City, which was very hard hit by the swine flu in the Spring, Dr. Schuchat says “it would be just wonderful if New York City was not at risk. .. but it is way too early to know” if that is the case. The CDC continues to encourage nearly everyone to get both the seasonal and the swine flu vaccines.
To that end, Dr. Anthony Fauci reported on the latest studies regarding the simultaneous vaccination of people of both vaccines, and the news is good. Getting the injectible version of both vaccines at the same time does not impair immune response to either. He also reported that NIH would begin studies on the efficacy of the H1N1 vaccine on HIV-infected populations, and those with asthma.
Vaccinations began on October 5th in many areas, but there will not be state-specific data until next Friday. The CDC will also report out on both Tuesday and Friday of next week the total amount of vaccine available. As of Thursday, 6.8 million doses of H1N1 flu mist vaccine were available, with 3.7 million of those doses ordered by the states. They expect injectible vaccine to arrive in some places beginning next week.
With respect to the seasonal flu vaccine, the CDC acknowledged that some areas were low on the amount of vaccine available, and attributed it to a ‘balance’ issue for manufacturers who have had to adjust their calendars to supply both seasonal and swine flu vaccines. Schuchat went on to say that they were encouraged by the number of seasonal flu vaccines that have been requested, saying there were 77 million doses available, but cautioned that the US may see an increase in seasonal flu.
The CDC also called it a “myth” that health care workers should not get nasal spray variety of flu vaccine, saying instead that most health care workers CAN get flu mist with some rare exceptions.