The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released its initial “Flu View” report for the 2011-2012 flu season with the message that flu activity is currently low, making this a good time to get vaccinated. According to the CDC plenty of vaccine should be available as supply is projected to set a US record this year.
“We know from our first report for this season that influenza activity in the United States is low now, with few people going to the doctor for flu-like symptoms and few respiratory viruses testing positive for flu,” said Joe Bresee, MD, chief of the CDC’s Influenza Epidemiology and Prevention Branch. “Though we can’t predict the exact timing, we expect increases in influenza illness, hospitalizations, and deaths in the next few weeks.”
More than 110 million doses of vaccine have been delivered in the United States as of the end of September, with manufacturers projecting total production of between 166 and 173 million doses. This is the most flu vaccine ever produced for the US market.
“The good news,” said Bresee, “is that the flu viruses this year’s vaccine will protect against are very well matched to those flu viruses that are circulating now, so it’s looking like we will have a vaccine that provides good protection this season to help keep influenza illness and serious complications down.”
In addition to the high-dose flu shot introduced last season for people 65 and older, a new intradermal shot is being introduced this season. The intradermal shot uses a needle 90% smaller than that for the regular flu shot and is approved for people 18 to 64 years of age. The traditional seasonal flu shot that has been available for decades and a nasal spray vaccine option introduced in 2003 for non-pregnant healthy people between 2 and 49 years of age are also available.