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Swine Flu May Be Rewriting the Flu-Season Script
Date:12/24/2009

Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at New York University in New York City, thinks it will.

"The seasonal flu, so far, has definitely been crowded out by H1N1. We have had very little seasonal flu so far because of H1N1. That's what I thought was going to happen and I'm not alone," he said.

However, Siegel is still hedging his bets.

"It is possible that the seasonal flu will come back, because we are starting to see a decrease in H1N1," he said. "As we get into the new year, we could have a seasonal flu outbreak in January and February. But I feel strongly, if we do, it's going to be way diminished compared to what we usually have."

Still, Siegel thinks it's a good idea to get a seasonal flu shot.

"Why not? If it's available, get it," he said. "It will offer protection if there is a seasonal flu. If there isn't much of a seasonal flu, it isn't going to hurt you. But probably it is not as important as in previous years."

Siegel believes the H1N1 vaccine is more important now than a seasonal flu shot, because there could be another large outbreak of the swine flu.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, made the same point during a press conference on Friday. "Whether we have seen the last of swine flu isn't known," he said.

"We have an ebbing second wave but an uncertain future," Frieden explained. "We don't know how many cases there will be between now, which is traditionally the beginning of the flu season, and May, when flu season traditionally ends."

Experts are divided over the likelihood of a swine flu resurgence: Some think there will be many more cases, while others don't predict a return, Frieden said. "Others think we don't know. That's probably the most accurate thing to admit. Only the future will tell what the future brings," he said.

The H1N1 swine flu continues to strike children and young adults
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