H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: Internet preparedness, thimerosal ban lifted, vaccine interest, AMA flu tools, pregnancy

Oct 26, 2009

GAO finds gaps in Internet pandemic planning
The US Department of Homeland Security has not developed a plan to address Internet congestion during a severe pandemic and has not looked into the possibility of asking the public to reduce nonessential use in such a setting, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) said today in an investigative report. The study, requested by Congress, also found that most securities firms had addressed pandemic planning, but not all had addressed staffing issues or telework alternatives.
Oct 26 GAO report

Missouri suspends thimerosal ban for vaccine
The director of Missouri's health department has suspended a legal restriction so that children under age 3 and pregnant women can receive pandemic H1N1 vaccine containing thimerosal. Margaret Donnelly determined that a shortage of preservative-free vaccine was preventing these groups from being immunized, the health department said. As permitted by law, she temporarily set aside a statute that bars the groups from receiving vaccines containing thimerosal.
Oct 22 Missouri Department of Health release

Chinese public's interest in H1N1 vaccine plunges
A poll finds that only 30% of Chinese would like to get the H1N1 flu vaccine, far below the 76% who said they wanted it in a poll 2 months ago, according to a report in the British newspaper The Independent. Citing safety concerns, 54% said they did not plan to be vaccinated, according to the poll by China Daily and the Web site sohu.com. The government plans to inoculate 5% of the population, about 65 million people, the story said. So far 300,000 people have been vaccinated.
Oct 26 Independent report

AMA launches flu tools for patients, physicians
The American Medical Association (AMA) recently launched a flu assessment Web portal to help patients gauge their symptoms and to help physicians monitor their patients and manage case flow. Based on guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the symptom assessment function advises patients when they should seek care for themselves or their loved ones. The site also offers assessments relating to vaccines for pregnant women and postvaccination symptoms.
Oct 22 AMA press release

El Salvador notes flu, dengue fever co-infections
Health officials in El Salvador are reporting four cases of patients infected with influenza A H1N1 and dengue fever, according to an Oct 24 translated media report published yesterday on the ProMed e-mail listserv. Though it's not clear if the virus is pandemic H1N1, ProMed moderators suspect it is, because virus activity is increasing in El Salvador, unlike other Central American sites. Though the cases did not appear to be fatal, there was little other information about the clinical course.
Oct 25 ProMed post

Health groups issue letter on H1N1 and pregnancy
In an urgent effort to press the importance of seasonal and pandemic H1N1 vaccination for pregnant women, four major medical groups—the AMA, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the CDC—sent a joint "dear colleague" letter to healthcare professional nationwide. The letter points out the increased number of flu deaths in pregnant women and advises providers to counsel and vaccinate this group.
Oct 22 AAFP press release

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