H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: Focus on risk groups, flu still up on campus, virus in pork, guidance for swine workers, other vaccine news

Nov 5, 2009

CDC urges states to focus vaccine on risk groups
CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, sent a letter today to states commending them for their efforts to distribute pandemic vaccine when demand exceeds supply but emphasizing that the scarce supplies should first go to priority groups. He warned that giving early doses to those outside high-risk groups could undermine public health credibility. A spokesman said the CDC doesn't see confusion over allocation as widespread, but it wanted to underscore the importance of vaccinating vulnerable groups.
Nov 5 CDC letter

Flu-like illnesses on US campuses up 2%
The American College Health Association (ACHA) says its member schools had 28.6 new cases of flu-like illness per 10,000 students last week, a 2% increase from the week before. New cases at the 274 schools totaled 9,128. Forty-three percent of the colleges (117 of 274) had H1N1 vaccine on hand, but only about 1% of the students have been vaccinated so far, the association said.
ACHA report for week ending Oct 30

Virus found in Hong Kong pork samples
Two pork samples from a Hong Kong slaughterhouse have tested positive for the pandemic H1N1 virus, Hong Kong's Food and Health Bureau reported today. Experts believe the virus spread to the pigs from humans. The risk of humans contracting the virus has not risen, officials said. Yesterday the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said recent detections of the virus in animals are not surprising and animals do not seem to be spreading the virus among humans.

Poll: 52% of Americans likely to get H1N1 vaccine
Fifty-two percent of respondents in a national McClatchy-Ipsos poll said they are likely to get the H1N1 vaccine, while 47% said they are unlikely to get it, according to a McClatchy Newspapers report. In other findings, 63% of respondents said they were concerned about the virus, and 65% said they thought the Obama administration had done everything it could to provide the vaccine in time. The poll involved 1,077 people and had a sampling error margin of 3%.

Germany approves cell-based pandemic vaccine
German drug regulators have approved Novartis's cell-culture pandemic H1N1 vaccine, becoming the first country to clear a cell-based version, the company announced today. The vaccine, made in Marburg, Germany, contains 3.75 micrograms of antigen and an MF95 adjuvant. It is approved for those 6 months old and older. Studies found a single dose provoked a good immune response with no unexpected safety or tolerability concerns. Novartis is building a second cell-culture plant in the United States.
Nov 5 Novartis press release

CDC issues guidance for swine farm workers
The CDC yesterday issued interim guidance on pandemic flu prevention for swine farm workers. It warns that people and pigs can transmit the virus to each other and explains how to recognize flu signs in pigs. The guidance reviews hand hygiene and reminds workers that pig immunizations might not protect the animals from all circulating flu strains. The CDC urges that workers exposed to potentially sick pigs be required to wear protective equipment.
Nov 3 CDC interim guidance

Defense department receives first vaccine doses
The US Department of Defense (DOD) has started receiving its pandemic H1N1 vaccine and will start vaccinating in the coming weeks. Though vaccination with seasonal and pandemic vaccine is mandatory for service members, the DOD expects initial shipments to be limited. Officials said they will vaccinate high-risk groups while also maintaining mission readiness. Deployed troops, basic training locations, service academies, and healthcare workers will also receive the first of the DOD's doses.
Nov 4 DOD press release

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