ATLANTA The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still is recommending people who have not yet gotten their H1N1 flu shots that they do so. H1N1 vaccine is widely available, CDC officials noted.
In a conference call with reporters on Monday, the CDC that H1N1 has “not gone away,” with regional activity still being reported throughout the southeast, most notably in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. Hospitalizations attributed to H1N1 have been on the rise for three consecutive weeks.
“The H1N1 flu has made 2009-2010 flu season one of the most challenging in recent memory,” suggested U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin. “It's persistent in the southeast and now those states are experiencing more local and regional activity,” she said. “We're at a critical moment in our national response to this virus and we need to continue to urge Americans to get vaccinated, especially people at high risk from complications from H1N1.”
To date, approximately 60 million Americans have been infected and there's been 265,000 hospitalizations, the CDC reported. Close to 12,000 people have died from H1N1, about one-third the number of deaths attributed to influenza in a typical year. However, 11,000 deaths occurred in people under the age of 65, Anne Schuchat, CDC director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, noted. “That’s much more deaths in a particular year among younger people than what we typically see with seasonal flu. We estimate that the rate of death in young people is probably five times higher than what we would typically see with seasonal influenza.”