Nearly 120 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine have been shipped to states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but there is still a shortfall in a handful of states. The remainder is expected to be shipped in the upcoming weeks.
Up to now priority has been given to the cohorts of people who are most prone to this type of flu or who are exposed to it in their occupations—pregnant women, caregivers to children younger than 6 months old, healthcare workers and emergency medical services personnel, children 6 months through 18 years old, young adults 19 through 24 years old and high-risk adults (those with such chronic health conditions as asthma, diabetes and heart disease) ages 25 through 64 years old. However, the CDC is now encouraging all people who want the vaccine to get it, as supplies are being made available at local pharmacies, clinics and through your physician’s office.
Latest reports from the CDC indicate that H1N1 flu activity in the U.S. has declined; no states currently report widespread activity. The CDC is reporting that it underestimated cases in 2009. With better surveillance tools, it now says that in 2009 there was a wide range of hospitalized cases and deaths, with mid-level estimates of 246,000 hospitalized cases and 11,160 deaths in 48 states. The novel swine flu virus differs from the seasonal flu virus in that most of the people who have gotten sick are young—5 to 24 years old. Most of the people who have been hospitalized had underlying conditions that increased their risk of developing complications, such as pneumonia.
For the bleeding disorders community, it is important to note that the virus does not pose a threat to the safety of plasma-derived clotting factor products. Influenza is a lipid-enveloped virus that is inactivated by a variety of steps in the manufacturing processes used for all licensed products. In addition, prospective plasma donors who show symptoms of flu during the screening process are deferred from donating. The fact that no case of influenza transmitted by transfusion has been reported in the scientific literature is a strong indicator of the safety of the current system.
CDC and HHS Web Info
The CDC has created a Web page with up-to-date information on the H1N1 virus, including prevention information and other guidance. The page can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has created the Web site: www.flu.gov, to provide information on H1N1, avian and pandemic flu.
Treatment Guidelines for Healthcare Professionals
The CDC is also providing guidance for healthcare professionals treating individuals who are confirmed to have contracted H1N1 or have been exposed to it. This information can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/recommendations.htm
HIV/AIDS and H1N1
Experts do not believe that people living with HIV or AIDS are at increased risk for contracting flu. However, individuals with low CD4 cell counts who do contract flu may be at greater risk for complications, including lower respiratory tract infections and pneumonia. Specific information on this subject geared to clinicians is available from the CDC at: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/guidance_HIV.htm
Although there are no current supply issues, if H1N1 continues to spread and large numbers of donors are deferred, it is possible that the supply of plasma and products could eventually be affected. NHF will work closely with industry and appropriate government agencies to monitor and address this situation if it becomes an issue.
Flu and You
Individuals who show flu symptoms are encouraged to contact their primary care or hemophilia treatment center physician.
NHF will try to keep the community informed of any new developments.