Thirty-seven states are reporting widespread flu activity—up from 27 last week—and nearly all of the cases have been identified as the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Anne Schuchat, director of the national center for immunization and respiratory diseases at the CDC, told reporters in a weekly news conference that the H1N1 virus—popularly referred to as swine flu—has now claimed the lives of 76 children under the age of 18 since the deadly strain emerged in April. By comparison, the total pediatric deaths from influenza in the past three years has ranged from 46 to 88, Schucat said, adding that it's only October and the flu season will last until May.
Vaccination efforts for the H1N1 virus began this week with the arrival of the nasal-spray form of the vaccine; as of Oct. 8, there were 6.8 million doses available, and 3.7 million doses have been ordered by the states. “There is probably more demand than supply, but that's expected because the tap has just opened,” Schuchat said. She also stressed the importance and safety of the vaccine and said no “shortcuts” were taken to produce it.