Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, Director of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), is urging all Americans to get their flu shot before the next influenza season begins. Frieden, along with other health experts, explained the advantages of the flu vaccine for American public health.

Frieden explained that two years ago a flu pandemic made its way around the world, resulting in hundreds of thousands of patients being admitted to hospital and thousands of fatalities in America alone. An estimated 1,280 children in the USA died.

The subsequent increase in immunization rates are beginning to provide positive results.

Yesterday, Dr. Frieden, along with other experts, met at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., next to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID). Among the other members on the panel were, William Schaffner, MD, President, NFID, Richard Beigi, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of Pittsburgh; American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, as well as members from the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, American Pharmacists Association, the National Medical Association, the National Hispanic Medical Association, and the Indian Health Service.

Influenza virus

The CDC says that the number of infections, complications and deaths from flu is impossible to predict. However, all experts agree that all humans aged at least six months should receive the flu shot in order to reduce the impact of this very contagious disease.

The CDC stresses that in America there are enough vaccines for everybody. There are over 85 million influenza vaccine doses currently at public health clinics, pharmacies, retail stores and doctors’ practices. Pharmacists are now allowed to administer flu shots in all 50 US states.

Five companies make the flu shots – CSL, Novartis, AstraZeneca, MedImmune, GSK (GlaxoSmithKline), and Sanofi. The CDC informs that they will eventually have provided over 166 million doses for this season.

Last year 43% (nearly 131 million) of America’s eligible population received a flu shot – a steady increase over the last decade, says the CDC.

Health authorities are concerned that people may forget about the 2009 flu pandemic and not bother to get immunized this time round. Health officials say there are many more places offering flu shots than ever before. A new, very thin and small needle has been introduced, which makes the experience as painless as possible.

According to the CDC, a record number of pregnant women were vaccinated last year. Seven per cent more US children were immunized last year compared to a decade ago.

Dr. Frieden said:

“It’s getting easier to do that in terms of the ways you can get vaccinated and the amount of vaccine available.”

NFID President, Dr. William Schaffner, said:

“Our goal is to make annual vaccination a no-brainer
among all age groups.”

The NFID revealed that a recent survey reported that about two-thirds of American adults plan to get a flu shot this season.

Written by Christian Nordqvist