Cases of Swine Flu Decline, Along with Public Fear
< Dec. 30, 2009 > -- The number of cases of H1N1 swine flu continues to go down, and the supplies of the vaccine are now plentiful. However, too few people are getting vaccinated now, according to a top U.S. health official.
"The H1N1 vaccine supply is getting better and better," says Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
H1N1 Still Main Flu Strain in U.S.
Even though cases of swine flu infection continue to drop around the country, the H1N1 virus is still the primary flu strain. "Disease is at a better state around the country, less virus is circulating," says Dr. Schuchat. "But still everything we are seeing in terms of the flu strains is the H1N1 virus. So it's not gone at all."
Experts are not able to predict whether there will be a resurgence of swine flu, which peaked nationwide in early November as 48 states reported widespread infections. "It is important to not become complacent about the ongoing risk of H1N1 influenza," Dr. Schuchat states.
Dr. Schuchat reports that about 111 million doses of H1N1 vaccine have been made available for distribution so far. A recent CDC survey found that about 46 million people had received the vaccine, with about 40 percent of the doses being administered to children. "That's really good news, because with the H1N1 vaccine we were targeting children because they have been so hard hit by the virus," she says.
Unlike seasonal flu, which typically is a greater threat to people age 65 and older, the H1N1 flu has been affecting mostly children and young adults.
Poll Finds That Fear of Flu Is Waning
Possibly on account of the decline in swine flu cases nationwide, a new poll from the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that only 40 percent of those surveyed were concerned that they or their family would contract the flu. This is down from 52 percent who were worried in a poll in September.
Now is a good time to get vaccinated against the H1N1 flu, says Dr. Schuchat, because the vaccine is plentiful. And should there be recurrence of illness, you'll be protected.
Dr. Schuchat also advises at children younger than 10 should get two doses of the vaccine to be fully protected. "We recommend two doses of H1N1 vaccine about one month apart."
According to estimates from the CDC, children and young adults are still the most vulnerable to the H1N1 flu. From mid-April through November of this year, 47 million Americans were infected with the swine flu. About 16 million of those people were children under 18 years of age, and about 27 million were adults between 18 and 64.
For more on H1N1 swine flu, visit the Web site for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
For more information on health and wellness, please visit health information modules on this Web site.
Protect Yourself from the Flu
There are everyday precautions you can take to protect yourself and your family from both the seasonal flu and the H1N1 flu. Following these measures may be helpful:
Talk with your doctor for more information about preventing the flu.
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