H1N1: CDC press briefing (10-23)

October 23, 2009

Updated H1N1 posts/symptoms/vaccine

Weekly 2009 H1N1 CDC press briefing
Audio (MP3)

Director of the CDC Dr Tom Frieden:

H1N1 vaccine is sent out from the CDC
Seasonal vaccine is sent out directly from the manufacturers

In the second wave of H1N1
46 states are reporting widespread activity
To be basically in the peak of flu season in October is extremely unusual
Many millions of cases of H1N1 since April
20,000 hospitalizations
Over 1000 deaths

Largely a young person’s disease.
Still not seeing significant numbers of cases in the elderly.
The fact that we’re having a young person’s flu now doesn’t mean we’re not going to have an older person’s flu later in the year.

We are not seeing any greater severity of this particular virus than we did in the spring.
It’s comparable generally to that of seasonal flu
Not seeing significant increases in resistance — remains overwhelmingly susceptible to Tamiflu
Not seeing big changes in the genetic nature of the virus that would make it less susceptible to vaccine.

WED: 14.1 million doses available to the states for ordering.
11.3 million had been shipped
SAT: 16.1 million doses available for shipping.

Available for seasonal and H1N1
Recommended for healthy people 2-49
Not for pregnant women
Believe it will be as effective as the shot
Not a risk to patients if a health care worker get this vaccine.

85 million doses distributed by the manufacturers
60 million people have been vaccinated already for seasonal influenza.
Another 30 million doses in upcoming months

Pregnancy is a risk factor for any type of influenza
It’s a risk factor for serious illness and death from H1N1 influenza.
About six times more likely to die from H1N1 influenza if you’re pregnant.
So women who are pregnant are a high priority for the vaccine.

How safe is H1N1 vaccine?

There is no evidence that thimarisol increases the risk of problems but we would like a thimarisol-free vaccine for those who want it. The challenge is that it is used for multi dose vials and you may have more of that product.  So finding that vaccine for those who want it may be a challenge.

The facts are that this is the same manufacturing process, the same manufacturers, the same factories, the same safeguards as the seasonal flu vaccine that has been used for more than 100 million doses each year for many years and which has an excellent safety record.  If we had had this pandemic earlier, we would most likely have included H1N1 influenza as part of the regular seasonal flu vaccine.  So there is every reason to be confident in the safety of seasonal flu vaccination and there is no reason to think that the H1N1 vaccine would be any less safe.

One of the things we are looking at very closely is the risk of Guiallaume-Barre syndrome. It’s a rare but serious condition that’s generally self-limited.  It can, in exceptional cases, be severe or fatal.  So it’s something we take very seriously. And that is one of the reasons we need to anticipate that there will be some people who get vaccinated and develop the syndrome.  Many of them, perhaps all of them, would have developed it even without vaccinations.

We hope there will be enough seasonal flu vaccine for everyone who wants to have it. We are confident that there will be eventually enough H1N1 vaccine for everyone who wants to be vaccinated, but probably or certainly not for everyone as soon as they would like to be vaccinated.

If you have an underlying condition or if you are severely ill with difficulty breathing, important to get care promptly and vaccination as soon as that becomes available.

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