Is swine flu getting worse?

November 12, 2009

No, says the U.S. federal government, but officials finally have enough data to give a good picture of the pandemic and it isn’t pretty. The CDC estimates that 22 million Americans caught swine flu in the first six months of the pandemic and 3,900 people died.

This includes 540 children.

So why the big jump in numbers? In a country of 300 million people, it takes some time to do a count. The US doesn’t have an organized public health system and states and cities lack enough staff to crunch the numbers in real-time. So the CDC takes a representative, detailed sampling from 10 states and then extrapolates this to the total US population. The latest figures are the first to give a good estimate of how extensive the pandemic is so far.

The CDC is pushing vaccines but at the same time, supply is spotty and people are often suspicious of them. Americans are not alone in this mistrust, by the way – check here for an unpdate on what is happening in Europe.  And here is one creative way to help prevent the spread…

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I want to clarify a few things since I interviewed Kristine Sheedy at CDC who directs the communication for H1N1 vaccination campaign. 1) vaccination is voluntary not mandatory and not required by schools etc.2) Public opinion polls indicate that despite the shortage of vaccine at local clinics, etc. most people plan to return to get their H1N1 shots once it’s available locally.3) There’s a lot of misinformation regarding the H1N1 vaccine and a good resource is the Myths and Facts on http://www.flu.gov Web site. However, if people are anti-vaccine in general, this information isn’t going to change their mind.Christine Lehmann, MAHealth writer

Posted by Christine Lehmann | Report as abusive