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About 47M Infected, 10,000 Dead From H1N1 In U.S., CDC Says

U.S. health officials on Thursday announced nearly 10,000 people in the U.S. had died from H1N1 (swine flu) since the virus was first reported in April, the New York Times reports. The latest numbers mark a “significant jump” from CDC’s estimate last month of 4,000 deaths in the U.S., the newspaper writes (McNeil, 12/10).

Approximately 1,100 of the reported H1N1 deaths occurred in children, CDC Director Thomas Frieden said during a conference call, Bloomberg reports. “That compares with fewer than 90 pediatric deaths reported in each of the last two flu seasons, according to the CDC. In a typical season, 36,000 people die of the flu” in the U.S. (Randall, 12/10).

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated Thursday that some 47 million Americans have come down with a case of the H1N1 flu between April and Nov. 14, or about one in every six men, women and children,” CQ HealthBeat reports (Norman, 12/10).

“The new numbers reflect a substantial increase in illnesses between mid-October and Nov. 14, as a fall wave peaked and then began to decline. About 213,000 people were hospitalized during the period, about the same amount as in a normal flu season, the CDC said,” the Wall Street Journal reports. Frieden added that an increase in the number of H1N1 vaccines in the country has led states to start to offer the vaccine to the general population. “That means more vaccine should become available through outlets such as clinicians and retail pharmacies, and the CDC has started offering the vaccine to its employees, Dr. Frieden said,” according to the newspaper (McKay, 12/10).

In related news, Reuters reports on growing concerns in China that the country’s vaccination campaign is losing momentum. Since China’s H1N1 vaccination campaign was launched in September, more than 32 million people have received the vaccine, the news service writes. “That campaign, however, seems to be floundering just as the country heads into winter and ahead of the [Lunar] New Year holiday in February, when millions of people travel back to their home towns – potentially taking flu with them.” To date, there have been reports of 125 deaths from H1N1 in China.

“Generally speaking, vaccination work has been proceeding smoothly, but recently progress has been quite slow in some areas,” Health Ministry spokesperson Deng Haihua said during a news conference. “Experts expect that the next one to two months will be key in the fight to prevent H1N1,” he added. The article includes details about the public’s concern over the vaccine (Blanchard/Le, 12/11).

The Chinese government has expanded the priority groups for receiving the H1N1 vaccine to include “pregnant women, migrant workers, and people with close contacts with animals such as butchers and veterinarians,” ChinaDaily reports. Up until now, the government had focused its H1N1 vaccination campaigns on the students, chronically ill and medical workers, the newspaper reports (12/11).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.