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admin 10-29-2005 04:18 PM

Flu Vaccines: Yea or Nay?
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent
Thu Oct 20, 4:03 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Too few Americans, especially minorities, are being vaccinated against the annual flu epidemic, and recent shortages of vaccine are not helping, U.S. health officials said on Thursday.

Fewer than half of blacks and Hispanics who should have received the vaccine actually did, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

The CDC report reflects the annual flu vaccine, which is recommended for everyone 65 and up, pregnant women, young children, people with weak immune systems and their caretakers.

In an average year, seasonal influenza kills about 36,000 Americans and up to 500,000 people globally.

Those numbers could rise to millions globally if a serious pandemic occurred -- a possibility many experts say has become more likely with H5N1 avian influenza, which is affecting poultry from Asia into Europe and may someday change enough to infect people easily.

There is no available vaccine against H5N1 yet but health officials note that annual flu is a big risk itself. They also want people to get vaccinated this year against regular flu so that if H5N1 begins to cause a pandemic, people will at least be protected against the less dangerous strains.

Efforts to encourage vaccination fell apart in recent years. During the last season, Chiron Corp. lost its license to make vaccine and had to destroy half the anticipated U.S. supply of 100 million doses.

Government officials were able to scrape together a little over 60 million doses but in the end several million doses were thrown away unused.

CDC experts analyzed the 2003 flu vaccine year, when 65 percent of seniors got the recommended shot -- far below the 90 percent target.

Just 48 percent of non-Hispanic blacks, and 45 percent of Hispanics in high-risk groups reported they got the vaccine.

"Among persons aged 18 to 64 years with high-risk conditions, influenza vaccination coverage was 34.1 percent," reads the report, published in the CDC's weekly report on death and disease.

Just 13 percent of pregnant women got immunized in 2003, although they are also at risk of complications from flu.

Other studies have shown only 36 percent of health-care workers get flu shots, even though they are very likely to be infected and can pass the virus on to vulnerable patients.

The trouble comes in part because people do not realize the benefits of vaccination, the CDC said. While the flu vaccine does not always completely prevent influenza, it can make an infection much less serious.

But supply disruptions in 2001, 2002 and last year also confused people, who sometimes lined up to get immunizations, sometimes were told to stand aside to let more high-risk people get theirs and who sometimes had to wait for vaccines to be delivered.

kskerr 11-13-2005 05:16 PM

While I support vaccination I have never had a flu shot. High risk people especially should get them.

goul 02-09-2006 12:31 AM

Hi friends
Other studies have shown only 36 percent of health-care workers get flu shots, even though they are very likely to be infected and can pass the virus on to vulnerable patients. Yes lot of studies showed already in lot of areas bird flu already took place, so please took care on it, my friend tell me that tamiflu drug is very important drug for more information visit here- use this site.

kskerr 02-09-2006 03:09 AM

I learned in virology that the flu viruses people are concerned with containes 8 chromosomes and if a person is infected with more than one kind that they can recombine to make a new bug, which can be bad. What can be really bad is if there is a nasty new flu strain, such as the current avian flu bug they are talking about, right now it does not spread from person to person but if a person with a flu strain that does is infected with it they could recombine to make a superbug. Also common is for a middle host to get two strains, very commonly pigs, they'll get a human and avian virus and create hybrids that can infect and spread person to person. Now no one tell my professor that I learned anything in his class, would ruin my reputation as a microbe biggot, I'm officially only interested in bacteria not viruses :p.

Doctor Johnny Fever 02-19-2006 09:31 PM

I don't believe in them. I haven't gotten the flu since I stopped, actually.

"What about the germs?" I say. He says, "I don't believe in germs. Germs is a plot made up so they could sell disinfectants and soaps." Now he's crazy, right?

kskerr 02-23-2006 11:10 PM

The flu shot may not be perfect but it is good for people, especially those at risk or in the health care industry, to get it. I think the inhaled version is coming out soon, think I might jump on the bandwagon if it is not too expensive or my insurance will cover it.

pommie 03-08-2006 07:42 AM

Can anybody please help me as i am terrified with the global news of the bird flu and for this i am rummaging the various sources to collect information about it from wherever i can, but one thing which still remains as a mystery to me that which are the drugs an:( tivirals they are I guess can be most handy in the crisis situation! or will we have to leave it in the hands of the fate?

davis 03-16-2006 08:41 AM

Yes not only is the bird flu creating a situation where there are the chances of an epidemic but the problem that further disturbs us is that of the ideal prevention ways of this problem, rather than leaving the situation in the hands of fate I would certainly try to do whatever I can, and yes that has in the meantime helped me a lot in obtaining vital information regarding the required details concerning the bird flu and the associated medications that are indespensable.

Giardia 07-31-2006 11:11 PM

an inhaled version would be nice...

Gangrene...oh no! 01-13-2009 06:41 PM

Yea for high risk people, nea for people allergic to eggs, etc.

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