Wednesday, August 19, 2009

CDC Guidelines for Swine Flu Vaccinations

I am happy to report that the CDC has been actively planning for the upcoming influenza season. No one knows how many people will be affected, but they are planning for the worst case scenario, which is good in my opinion. We have the resources, and we must have the will power to plan and execute to minimize this season's influenza pandemic.

The CDC has issued guidelines for whom should be considered more strongly for vaccinations, at least early on, when the supply of vaccine will be limited. From their website, these groups include:
1) Pregnant women because they are at higher risk of complications and can potentially provide protection to infants who cannot be vaccinated;
2) Household contacts and caregivers for children younger than 6 months of age because younger infants are at higher risk of influenza-related complications and cannot be vaccinated. Vaccination of those in close contact with infants less than 6 months old might help protect infants by “cocooning” them from the virus;
3) Health care and emergency medical services personnel because infections among health care workers have been reported and this can be a potential source of infection for vulnerable patients. Also, increased absenteeism in this population could reduce health care system capacity;
4) All people from 6 months through 24 years of age
5) Children from 6 months through 18 years of age because we have seen many cases of novel H1N1 influenza in children and they are in close contact with each other in school and day care settings, which increases the likelihood of disease spread, and
6) Young adults 19 through 24 years of age because we have seen many cases of novel H1N1 influenza in these healthy young adults and they often live, work, and study in close proximity, and they are a frequently mobile population; and,
7) Persons aged 25 through 64 years who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza.

Currently, it is not even certain if the vaccine will be available by this fall. I hope it will be and that it will be effective. While the media is not focusing on this topic any more, and the data suggest that swine flu is not very serious, it can cause preventable deaths. I think we should make every effort to minimize swine flu's impact.

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