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December 20th, 2010 - Staff

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Millions of vaccine doses to be burned

July 5th, 2010 - By Mike Stobbe, The Associated Press
In this Dec. 22, 2009 file photo, swine flu vaccines are sorted at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. A whopping 40 million doses of swine flu vaccine expired on Wednesday, June 30, and will be destroyed _ an amount that is believed to be a record loss of flu vaccine. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

In this Dec. 22, 2009 file photo, swine flu vaccines are sorted at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. A whopping 40 million doses of swine flu vaccine expired on Wednesday, June 30, and will be destroyed _ an amount that is believed to be a record loss of flu vaccine.
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

About a quarter of the swine flu vaccine produced for the U.S. public has expired—meaning that a whopping 40 million doses worth about $260 million are being written off as trash.

“It’s a lot, by historical standards,” said Jerry Weir, who oversees vaccine research and review for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The outdated vaccine, some of which expired Wednesday, will be incinerated. The amount, as much as four times the usual leftover seasonal flu vaccine, likely sets a record. And that’s not even all of it.

About 30 million more doses will expire later and may go unused, according to one government estimate. If all that vaccine expires, more than 43 percent of the supply for the U.S. public will have gone to waste.

Federal officials defended the huge purchase as a necessary risk in the face of a never-before-seen virus. Many health experts had feared the new flu could be the deadly global epidemic they had long warned about, but it ended up killing fewer people than seasonal flu.

Filed under: Health Care. Tags: , , , , .

Is the US swine flu epidemic over?

February 10th, 2010 - By Mike Stobbe, The Associated Press

Graphic shows reported weekly swine flu cases since September 5.

Graphic shows reported weekly swine flu cases since September 5.

If the U.S. swine flu epidemic isn’t over, it certainly looks as if it’s on its last legs. While federal health officials are not ready to declare the threat has passed and the outbreak has run its course, they did report Friday that for the fourth week in a row, no states had widespread flu activity. U.S. cases have been declining since late October.

One U.S. expert said the epidemic has “one foot in the grave,” and there are many reasons to believe there won’t be another wave later in the year.

For one thing, the virus has shown no signs of mutating. The vaccine against it is effective. And roughly half the people in the U.S. probably have some immunity because they were infected with it or got vaccinated.

Filed under: Healthy Living. Tags: , , .

Now is the time for H1N1 vaccination

January 9th, 2010 - By Dan Carden

With plenty of vaccine available and the number of new cases slowing, now is the time to get immunized against H1N1 influenza, Indiana Health Commissioner Judy Monroe said Tuesday.

“For those that we back in fall said were not a priority group, I’m saying now you are a priority group and you should be vaccinated,” Monroe said.

The state health department immunized more than 300 state lawmakers and Statehouse workers at a free Statehouse vaccine clinic on the first day of the new legislative session.

Health official: H1N1 vaccine safe, despite recall

December 19th, 2009 - By Dan Carden

The Indiana State Health Commissioner said the H1N1 influenza vaccine is still effective, despite a manufacturer’s recall this week of 800,000 doses.

Forty-three local health departments received the affected doses, including the health departments of the city of Gary and Lake, Porter, LaPorte and St. Joseph counties. Overall, Indiana received about 10,000 of the recalled doses, which tests have found to be weaker than they should be, but still effective enough for immunity.

Health Commissioner Judy Monroe said there is no need to re-vaccinate adults and most children whose H1N1 vaccine injection came from the affected lots.

Swine flu publicity means uptick in OCD symptoms

December 13th, 2009 - By Caryn Brooks, For The Associated Press

All those swine flu warnings have made a difference: People are washing their hands more, whipping out hand sanitizer and giving the stink-eye to coughers in their proximity.

But for people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, all the talk about germs has been ominous. People who treat those affected with OCD are seeing an uptick in those seeking help.

“We’ve gotten more calls this year—there is no doubt. And a large percentage of those callers talk about H1N1 contamination,” says Ellen Sawyer, executive director of the education and support organization OCD Chicago.

Better not cough—Santa doesn’t want your illness

December 9th, 2009 - By Holly Ramer, Associated Press Writer

Forget cookies and milk. Santa wants the swine flu vaccine.

Many of the nation’s Santas want to be given priority for the vaccine and not just because of those runny-nosed kids. There’s also the not-so-little matter of that round belly. Research has suggested obesity could be a risk factor.

Swine flu has become such a concern that the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas featured a seminar on the illness at a recent conference in Philadelphia. The group also urged its members to use hand sanitizer and take vitamins to boost their immune systems.

Your Child’s Health—Two timely topics in pediatrics

December 7th, 2009 - By Dr. Robert Dershewitz

Should Tylenol be given with immunizations?

Infants usually start receiving immunizations at two months of age. The benefits of vaccinations are well-known, but they may also cause side effects such as fever and fussiness. Babies younger than three months who are irritable or febrile present a special problem because these signs may represent the first indication of a serious underlying condition thus necessitating that the baby be evaluated immediately.

A relatively small number of babies develop these concerning symptoms after receiving immunizations, usually within the first day and rarely lasting longer than 36 hours from the time of vaccination. These side effects may pose a dilemma: are we to assume that the fever in a 2-month-old is due to the immunizations and hence is nothing to be concerned about, or are we ignoring the first clue that there is something much more sinister going on?

State sees decrease in influenza-like activity

December 2nd, 2009 - By Sarah Tompkins

Influenza activity across the state has decrease during the last few weeks, and the state now has a new strategy to target college students for vaccinations, Indiana Department of Health officials said last Wednesday.

“We’re overall seeing some good numbers in terms of the influenza activity decreasing somewhat,” said Dr. Judy Monroe, state health commissioner. “There’s kind of a window of opportunity to right now to vaccinate college students who will be all over the place when the Christmas holidays come.”

Monroe said almost half of all the confirmed state H1N1 cases were found in the college age group of 19- to 24-year-olds.

Filed under: Healthy Living. Tags: , , , .

‘Party cautiously’ but have fun

November 22nd, 2009 - By Michael Hill, Associated Press Writer

Is it safe to party when swine flu threatens to crash your bash?

It’s a question many revelers may be asking this year as the holiday party season coincides with an anxiety-provoking flu season.

The good news is that while it is true that mingling over punch and canapes can help spread the H1N1 virus, health and entertaining experts say it’s possible to throw a holiday party without making everyone wear surgical masks and hazmat suits.

Filed under: Healthy Living. Tags: , , .

Put these flu rumors to rest

November 5th, 2009 - By Anna Tong, McClatchy Newspapers

If there’s one thing that spreads faster than the flu, it’s unfounded rumors. We asked Dr. Dean Blumberg, pediatric infectious disease specialist at University of California Davis Medical Center, to debunk a few common myths about the H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine.

MYTH: The vaccine isn’t safe.

The vaccine is functionally identical to the regular seasonal flu vaccine and has gone through the same testing, Blumberg said. While getting the H1N1 vaccine does carry the same risk as the seasonal flu vaccine, the chances of dying from the vaccine are much smaller than from H1N1 disease, he said.

MYTH: You can get sick from the vaccine.

That won’t happen, Blumberg said. The flu virus is inactivated in the shot version of the vaccine, so it can’t make you sick. The virus is alive in the nasal spray version, but it’s so weak that the most you could get would be a very mild runny nose or scratchy throat.

Filed under: Healthy Living. Tags: , , .

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