The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is making plans to distribute the swine flu vaccine when it becomes available. The agency has also issued its final recommendations for groups of people who should be vaccinated, Dr. Jay Butler, director of the agency's H1N1 Vaccine Task Force, said at the press conference.
These groups include "pregnant women, children and young adults aged 6 months to 24 years, as well as persons aged 25 to 64 who have medical conditions that put them at high risk for influenza-related complications," Butler said.
Health-care workers and people who live with or care for infants under 6 months of age, who are too young to be vaccinated, should also be vaccinated, he said.
While the H1N1 swine flu is expected to return to North America in the fall, right now flu activity in the United States is low, and it appears to be winding down in the Southern Hemisphere, where winter is coming to a close, Butler said.
"To date there have been 7,963 hospitalizations and 522 deaths [in the United States] that have been laboratory confirmed as caused by novel H1N1 flu," Butler said. "It is important to keep in mind that these numbers radically underestimate the number of cases that actually occur, because many cases go without testing," he added.
Most states are reporting low levels of swine flu activity, Butler said. The exceptions are Alaska and Maine, he said.
Earlier this week, federal officials announced that there will only be an estimated 45 million doses of vaccine on hand by Oct. 15, rather than the originally anticipated 120 million doses. After mid-October, 20 million more doses of the vaccine will be shipped each week.
Officials attributed the delay to a less-than-expected yield of the vaccine substrate used to make the v
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