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48 States Now Report Flu Activity, Elderly Hit Hard
Date:1/21/2013

g to the CDC. From 1976 to 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.

The predominant strain of circulating flu this season continues to be influenza A H3N2, which typically poses bigger problems for young children and the elderly, followed by influenza B, according to the CDC.

However, the predominant strains can vary across states and regions of the country, the agency noted.

Frieden said there are continued reports of vaccine shortages in certain areas of the country. The companies that make vaccine for the United States projected that a total of 135 million doses would be available. They are, however, able to make additional vaccines for a total of 145 million. So far 129 million doses have been distributed, he said.

People can look on the web at Flu.gov to see where vaccine is available in their area, Frieden said.

Flu season usually peaks in late January or early February, but by November the flu was already severe and widespread in some parts of the South and Southeast.

The best defense against the flu remains the flu vaccine and it's not too late to get vaccinated, the CDC said.

This year's vaccine appears to be well matched for the circulating flu strains, the CDC said. A recent report put the vaccine's effectiveness at 62 percent. No vaccine is 100 percent effective. But if flu strikes, vaccination often results in milder illness, the agency said.

Two antiviral medications, Tamiflu and Relenza, can reduce flu symptoms and the course of the disease. To be effective, however, they must be started within 48 hours after symptoms appear. To increase the supply of Tamiflu, Dr. Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said at the news conference that the agency is allowing Tamiflu's manufacturer, Genentech, to distribute reserve doses that contain old packaging information. These doses aren't out
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