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
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
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