Newark, NJ—The 2008-2009 flu vaccine has been formulated to block three new, different influenza strains. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that this combination is unusual in that in past year only 1-2 strains were targeted. Unlike other routinely recommended vaccines whose formulation remains constant over time, influenza vaccine is changed each year to match the strains predicted to circulate during the upcoming season.
“The flu vaccine is reformulated every year to keep up with fast-evolving influenza virus,” reports Maria Espiritu-Fuller, MD,.MPH, Director of Infection Control at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. “The influenza vaccine composition to be used in the 2008-2009 influenza season in the U.S. is identical to that recommended by the World Health Organization for the Northern Hemisphere's 2008-2009 influenza season.”
As of August 27, 2008, the first 1.3 million doses of influenza vaccine were released by the Food and Drug Administration and began shipping from manufacturers.
Influenza Immunization Recommendations
The CDC recommends that health-care providers begin offering influenza vaccine as soon as vaccine becomes available, and continue immunization efforts throughout the season. Health-care providers are urged to continue immunization efforts until the end of influenza season.
Approximately 250 million people, or 4 out of 5 residents of the U.S., are recommended to receive the influenza vaccine annually. Most Americans have had some experience with seasonal flu, a respiratory illness that strikes annually. Seasonal flu kills about 36,000 and hospitalizes over 200,000 people in the U.S. every year. It poses an important threat to the unvaccinated, especially young children.
The CDC recommends an annual influenza immunization for anyone who wishes to reduce their risk of contracting influenza; children 6 months through 18 years of age; adults over 50 years of age; pregnant women; and anyone with chronic health conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, and diabetes. The CDC also recommends an annual immunization for caregivers and household contacts of these high-risk groups; such as relatives and health-care providers.
Children younger than 2 years old, even if they are otherwise healthy, are more likely than older children to be hospitalized with serious complications from influenza. These complications can include pneumonia, dehydration, and other bacterial infections. In some cases, complications can lead to death. Each year in the U.S., there are more than 20,000 children age five and younger hospitalized due to flu.
“In planning their vaccination efforts, it is important for health-care providers
and the public to realize that while influenza immunization programs often occur in the early fall, the influenza season itself does not typically peak until February, with disease appearing as late as May, says Dr. Espiritu-Fuller. “This allows many months for providers to administer influenza vaccine to their patients.”
Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
For a referral to a physician at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, please call 1-888-724-7123.
Date: September 3, 2008
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