The deadly H1N1 flu virus seems to have leveled off in the past three weeks, but the disease continues to cause hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S., an official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a news conference.
H1N1 activity levels off, CDC official says
“We are remaining vigilant here and do not think people should become complacent,” said Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC. While H1N1 activity has declined in the past three weeks, the CDC has seen a rise in pneumonia and flu deaths for three consecutive weeks. Schuchat said this happened last fall when the CDC saw the number of pneumonia and flu deaths rise for an 11-week period before falling.
About 124 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine have been shipped—with millions more available—and vaccination “remains a good idea,” said Schuchat, who added that the CDC estimates about 70 million, or about 23.4%, of Americans have received the vaccine. She also said there are “extensive opportunities” to receive the vaccine in physician offices, health departments, schools and pharmacies across the country. The CDC has not seen a change in virulence in the H1N1 strain, so the vaccine continues to be a good match for the virus.
While only 37% of children up to age 18 have been vaccinated, Schuchat said she is encouraged by that statistic because the figure represents a higher rate than seasonal flu vaccine rates for children. Also, about two-thirds of states have carried out school vaccinations, according to Schuchat, who strongly urged parents to make sure their young children receive a second dose if they have not already. The Atlanta-based agency recommends second doses for children under the age of 10, and only 37% of kids who have been vaccinated have received a second dose, Schuchat said.
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