CDC Announces Startling H1N1 Numbers

November 12, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
There are startling new numbers out on just how widespread, and deadly, the H1N1 flu has become. The death toll is significantly up because the causes of death for many people were originally attributed to illnesses like pneumonia, but they were actually brought on by H1N1. They are now being counted as part of the H1N1 casualty.

The CDC also expressed disappointment that so few vaccines were shipped this week -- 3 million, versus 11 million last week.

The CDC now estimates some eight million children, nationwide, have come down with H1N1 influenza during the past six months and as many as 800 have died. Those numbers are particularly troubling because the traditional flu season has just begun.

"I do believe that the pediatric death toll from this pandemic will be extensive and much greater than what we had with seasonal flu," says Anne Schuchat, M.D. from the Centers for Disease Control.

That makes vaccination all the more urgent.

In California, shipments are still behind schedule because of production delays by manufacturers. More than six million doses are supposed to be here by now, but only 4.5 million have shown up.

"As long as there continues to be less production that doesn't meet demand, there will continue to be unhappy frustrated people and we are doing the best we can," says California Public Health Director Dr. Mark Horton.

Most of those unhappy and frustrated people stand in line for hours waiting for the vaccine, if they can get one. There were 1,000 folks that stood in line Thursday morning in Fresno.

Sometimes, there isn't enough. The big question is: When will there be more?

"Frankly, we have stopped trying to predict or even estimate when that might happen," says Horton.

That unknown is particularly agonizing to many parents because a new report shows children younger than 10 need two doses, three weeks apart, to fully protect them. Regardless, with vaccines hard to come by, many California kids are lucky to get even one.

Supplies might improve. Some manufacturers have decided to cut back on the seasonal flu vaccine production in order to produce more of the H1N1 vaccine.

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