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Vidyya, from the Sanskrit "vaidya," a practitioner who has come to understand the science of life.

Volume 2 Published - 14:00 UTC    08:00 EST    01-January-2001      
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Back To Vidyya Vaccinate In January:

Flu Season Is Off To A Slow Start


CDC influenza surveillance supports the warning to persons at high risk for complications from influenza that itís not too late to get a flu shot this flu season. Influenza activity in the United States is increasing; however it has been low and lower than the same period last year.

The highest influenza activity was reported in Texas. However, six other states are reporting regional influenza activity: Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, and Tennessee. An additional 35 states reported sporadic influenza activity.

Since October 1, 14,010 specimens have been tested for influenza virus and 349, or 2 percent, tested positive; 259, or 74 percent, were influenza type A. However, in the Pacific region of the United States, influenza type B viruses accounted for most of the positive isolates. So far this season, influenza specimens taken from patients ill with the flu have been well-matched to the current 2000-01 influenza vaccine: A/Panama (H3N2), A/New Caledonia (H1N1), and B/Beijing.

Influenza vaccine for this flu season is in good supply now and can still save lives if administered to high risks persons in January. For each additional million elderly vaccinated this flu season, an estimated 900 deaths and 1,300 hospitalizations can be prevented, according to James Singleton from the CDCís Adult Vaccine Preventable Disease Activity.

CDC estimates that about 5 million doses of flu vaccine are still available for purchase. This week, CDC and Aventis Pasteur changed the minimum order to 50 doses, half of the earlier minimum 100 doses, to make it more convenient for smaller health care providers to be able to purchase vaccine with confidence that it will all be used. The vaccine is now available for purchase and can be used to vaccinate anyone, including healthy adults who wish to avoid influenza illness.

During 14 of the last 18 years, the flu season peaked in January or later. The flu season runs through April. The flu shot offers protection 10 to 14 days after vaccination. In an average flu season, 20,000 Americans die and 110,000 are hospitalized because of complications from influenza illness.

"We recognize that this has been a frustrating year for doctors and patients. This fall we asked them to be patient because of the flu vaccine delays. Now the vaccine is available and weíre telling them to give or get flu shots in January," said CDCís Keiji Fukuda, M.D. "That early patience combined with some persistence now to get the flu shot means Americans at high risk for complications, or anyone who wants to avoid illness from influenza, can be protected."

People at high risk for complications from influenza illness, their household contacts and health care workers who have not yet been vaccinated should make every effort to obtain vaccine and continue to be vaccinated during January, according to Dr. Fukuda.

Anyone 65 years of age or older, residents of nursing homes, adults and children 6 months of age or older with diabetes, immune system problems, or chronic lung disease are considered high risk for complications and should be vaccinated to protect against the flu. Women who will be in the second or third trimester of pregnancy during the influenza season (November through April) should be vaccinated against the flu.

Health care providers can obtain additional influenza vaccine by calling Aventis Pasteur at 800 720-8972 or visit http://www.vaccineshoppe.com. For more information about flu disease and flu vaccine, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/flu/fluvirus.htm



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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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