H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: Influenza B in China, kids' booster, minority groups, next Aussie wave, Facebook app

Jan 15, 2010

WHO: Influenza B up in China
Though the pandemic H1N1 virus is still the dominant flu strain, China has found influenza B in 12.6% of specimens, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today. Some countries are sporadically detecting seasonal H1N1 and H3N2 viruses. Regions reporting the most intense pandemic flu activity are North Africa, South Asia, and east and southeastern Europe. The most affected North African countries are Morocco, Algeria, and Egypt. Flu activity also increased in western India.
Jan 15 WHO update

Kids overdue for booster vaccine dose
A review of data from 10 states shows up to 80% of children under age 10 who were immunized against pandemic flu are overdue for their second dose, USA Today reported. Officials have said children ages 6 months to 10 years need a second dose to be fully protected. States said they worry that declining flu activity may dampen the public's interest in the vaccine. Experts have said a booster is still effective, even when given later than the suggested 4 weeks after the first dose.
Jan 14 USA Today story

California minority groups hit hard
California Hispanics, African-Americans, and Native Americans have been hospitalized and died from pandemic H1N1 flu at higher rates than whites, according to an LA Times report today. Death and hospitalization rates for the state's Hispanics have been about twice as high as whites', compared with a 50% higher death rate and a tripled hospitalization rate in blacks. Native Americans' rates were also higher than whites', while Asians had a higher hospitalization rate but lower death rate.
Jan 15 LA Times article

Belgium, Italy cut vaccine orders
Belgium has cut back its pandemic vaccine order with Glaxo by a third because of falling demand, Reuters reported today. The country's health ministry said the cut would save the government about $47.6 million. Meanwhile, Italy cancelled 24 million doses it had ordered from Sanofi, Bloomberg News reported today. The Italian media has reported that only 900,000 people were immunized against pandemic flu. Italy had also bought 24 million doses from Novartis.
Jan 15 Reuters story

Australia braces for possible back-to-school wave
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has said it is likely swine flu will strike the country again, possibly as a second wave after school resumes in a couple weeks and as people return from overseas holiday travel, according to The Australian. AMA vice-president Steven Hambleton said, "We're expecting to reimport the virus and to see people getting sick again." Officials are encouraging vaccination.
Jan 16 Australian report

HHS unveils flu-fighter Facebook app
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius yesterday announced a new Facebook application called, "I'm a Flu Fighter" that allows users to tell their friends they received the flu vaccine and urge others to do the same. "Social media has been an important tool to communicate with young people and all Americans about the importance of getting the H1N1 flu vaccine," Sebelius said in a press release.
Jan 14 HHS release

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