How Gen X reacted to the H1N1 pandemic
January 24th, 2012
12:02 AM ET

How Gen X reacted to the H1N1 pandemic

In April 2009, the CDC identified a new virus in humans: H1N1, or what was then called swine flu, and the wheels of the public health machine started turning.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global H1N1 pandemic in June, and by October 2009, the first doses of an H1N1-specific vaccine were administered.

A study published Tuesday looks at how Americans in their thirties reacted to the availability of a vaccine.  In all, about one in five of those in Generation X got the H1N1 vaccine during the 2009-2010 pandemic, according to the researcher’s analysis of survey data.

Bedbugs attack U.N. and other health headlines
October 28th, 2010
04:18 PM ET

Bedbugs attack U.N. and other health headlines

Bedbugs are no fan of the United Nations.  They've been making a home at some of the chairs at the international organization. Along with their march toward world domination, a few other headlines caught our eye this week:  news about pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest; who is and isn't getting a flu shot; and the drinking habits of smart people.

A few quick hits:

UN infected by bedbugs

It’s not enough for the bedbugs to take over Manhattan.  It turns out they want to invade the United Nations too.

Over the weekend, dogs detected bedbugs in conference room chairs at one office building in the complex. A U.N. spokesman said in a briefing Wednesday that the infested chairs were fumigated and none of the building occupants have reported bites. FULL POST

August 20th, 2010
01:46 PM ET

Flu shots available now

During a scorching summer,  flu shots may not be the first thing on your mind. But, drug store giants are making them available now.

The early availability of these shots follows new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that all people aged six months and older should receive the vaccine. The agency also said that the annual flu vaccination should begin in September or as soon as vaccine is available and continue throughout the flu season, into December, January, and beyond. Read more here about protecting yourself.


July 30th, 2010
02:49 PM ET

New flu vaccine is on the way

Anyone looking for protection against the seasonal flu may soon find it available at a doctor's office or nearby clinic.  Manufacturers have begun to ship the 2010/2011 seasonal flu shots and sprays.

Glaxo SmithKline, Sanofi-Pasteur, Novartis and MedImmune (maker of the flu spray FluMist) have announced that their flu vaccines are being shipped to distributors.

In the end, 155 million doses of flu shots and sprays should be available for the upcoming flu season, if all goes well with the manufacturing process.  On Friday, Sanofi Pasteur announced that the first of more than 70 million doses of vaccine have been shipped and GSK plans to supply more than 30 million doses of vaccine.  Novartis said Thurday that  it plans to ship about 40 million flu shots and MedImmune began shipping  it's first of 15 million sprays on July 21.

July 1st, 2010
03:22 PM ET

Swine flu vaccine tossed

An estimated 40 million doses of H1N1 vaccine expired Wednesday and will be thrown away, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,  says. Federal officials say the expired vaccine accounts for nearly 25 percent of the 162 million doses of swine flu vaccine that were available for public use. The vaccine will be crushed and then incinerated.


June 25th, 2010
09:54 AM ET

Kids may need 2 H1N1 doses again this year

By Miriam Falco
CNN Medical News Managing Editor

Children over 6 months and under 9 years old who haven't received an H1N1 vaccine yet can expect to get two doses of seasonal flu vaccine this fall, if the Centers for Disease Control adopts recommendations from its vaccine advisory committee.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to add this recommendation to the usual seasonal flu rules at a regularly scheduled meeting in Atlanta on Thursday.


June 17th, 2010
11:55 AM ET

Should pregnant women be medical test subjects?

By Stephanie Smith
CNN Medical Producer

Citing high death rates among pregnant women during the recent H1N1 flu pandemic, researchers spelled out what they believe is an urgent need to perform clinical testing in that group, according an article in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The researchers called pregnant women "therapeutic orphans" because of their virtual exclusion from medical research.

"The importance of studying subpopulations that have previously been excluded from research is undeniable," wrote the authors. "Ironically, the effort to protect the fetus from research-related risks by excluding pregnant women from research places both women and their fetuses at great risk..." FULL POST

February 22nd, 2010
05:44 PM ET

2009 H1N1 flu strain will be in next season flu vaccine

By Miriam Falco
CNN Medical News Managing Editor

The 2009 H1N1 flu virus, which has been circulating since last spring, sickened millions and killed at least 15,000 people worldwide, will be included in the next seasonal flu vaccine when it becomes available in the fall, health experts in the United States decided Monday.

Every February, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee advises the Food and Drug Administration on which flu strains to include in the next flu shot or spray.

The committee is following the recommendations of the World Health Organization, Dr. Jerry Weir, the FDA's director of the Division of Viral Products, told CNN.

"This is the same process we go through every year," Weir explained. The selection is made early in the year to give flu manufacturers enough time to make enough vaccine by September or October, when health officials recommend people get vaccinated. Pharmaceutical companies need so much lead time because it's takes a long time to grow vaccines in eggs, currently the only licensed method for making flu vaccines.

"The new H1N1 strain didn't exist last February," said Weir, which is why health officials couldn't consider it for the flu vaccine for the current flu season. Once it was determined that this new type of H1N1 flu strain was circulating around the country and the world, flu manufacturers were asked to develop an additional flu vaccine to fight this virus.

The most recent estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that between 41 million and 84 million people in the Unites States have been infected with 2009 H1N1 since last April. The CDC also estimates between 183,000 and 378,000 people were hospitalized and between 8,330 and 17,160 people died from this flu since it emerged.

The agency says its estimate vary widely because not everyone who gets sick goes to the doctor, and not everyone who is hospitalized was tested for this flu and because health officials believe hospitalizations and deaths are under-reported.

The following three virus strains will be included in the 2010/2011 seasonal flu shot:

- an "A California viru," which is the pandemic virus H1N1 virus that caused so much illness in the past 10 months;
- an "A Perth virus," which is an H3N2 virus
- a "B Brisbane virus."

Weir says now that the three specific strains have been selected, manufacturers can now begin producing the new batch of seasonal flu vaccine.

For those concerned about getting the flu now, the CDC continues to recommend getting the separate H1N1 vaccine which is now widely available.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

February 18th, 2010
05:21 PM ET

WHO recommends H1N1 be part of next seasonal flu vaccine

By Miriam Falco
CNN Medical News Managing Editor

The World Health Organization is recommending that the H1N1 flu virus that’s currently circulating be included in the next seasonal flu vaccine for the Northern Hemisphere.

The WHO meets twice a year to determine which flu strains are the most dominant and chooses three strains to include in the regular flu vaccine.

Based on recommendations from flu experts from around the world, it was decided at the meeting Thursday in Geneva, Switzerland, that the pandemic H1N1 influenza strain go into the vaccine for the coming fall and winter, according to the Special Adviser on Pandemic Influenza to Dr Keiji Fukuda, director-general of the WHO.

The two other flu strains to be included into the next flu shot or flu
spray are an H3N2 virus and a B-virus. Fukuda said that the fact that the new H1N1 flu strain will be included in the next seasonal flu vaccine does not mean that the H1N1 pandemic is over.

He told reporters in a teleconference that parts of Eastern Europe, parts of Northern and Western Africa and parts of Asia are seeing the highest levels of pandemic H1N1 flu activity.

In a meeting in September, the WHO had already recommended that the seasonal flu vaccine for the Southern Hemisphere contain the H1N1 strain.

Fukuda said so far, "over 200 million people have been vaccinated with
the H1N1 vaccine" and the safety profile of the vaccine has been very good.

While the WHO recommends which strains go into the next flu vaccine, it's up to individual countries to decide whether they want to combine all three recommended strains into one shot, or if they want to have each strain in doled out separately. The pandemic H1N1 strain was not included in this year's flu strain because it emerged in April, about two months after the three seasonal flu strains had been selected for the 2009/2010 flu season.

The Food and Drug Administration's Vaccines and Related Biological
Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) is meeting next Monday to decide which flu strains will be included in the next seasonal flu vaccine for the United States.

February 16th, 2010
09:05 AM ET

H1N1 vaccine — I had an allergic reaction

By Ashley WennersHerron
CNN Medical Intern

I am an allergy sufferer — from seasonal sniffles to mushrooms and penicillin. Although I’ve been careful and lucky enough to have to use an adrenaline auto-injector only once, I’m wary of trying new things, whether it’s food or a new vaccine, out of fear of discovering yet another allergy. Despite my hesitation, I felt the protection granted by receiving the H1N1 vaccine outweighed the risk of a possible allergic reaction.

Early this month, I made an appointment with my school’s health center to receive the nasal spray vaccine. When I went in, I bravely tilted my head back, pinched one nostril and then the other for my two shots of vaccine nasal spray. The nurse told me not to blow my nose for 10 minutes and I was free to go.

Nearly 20 minutes later, I felt a familiar tingle in my mouth, similar to the one I get if I eat shellfish. Twenty minutes after that, with my tongue was twice as large as normal, I sounded like Daffy Duck. I had a fever of 102 degrees and a migraine. Yep, I added another allergy to my list — the H1N1 vaccine.

I called a local hospital to see whether I should go to the emergency room. They recommended that I take a Benadryl and come in if I developed respiratory problems. I took the antihistamine tablet and promptly slept away my symptoms. Three hours later, I was a bit groggy, but asymptomatic.

According to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, which is co-sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, 6,528 individuals have reported an adverse reaction after receiving the H1N1 vaccine through injection. There have been 1,962 reactions reported for the live nasal spray vaccine. Both coincidental reactions and those caused directly by the vaccine are reported to the VAERS.

The CDC says that the nasal spray may cause a runny nose, but only in certain individuals is there a stronger reaction. If there is a severe reaction, such as trouble breathing, then the person should be brought to a doctor immediately. I was lucky to have only mild symptoms that did not require medical attention.

Despite my discomfort, I’m glad I received my vaccination. I live in a college dorm, surrounded by the 18- to 24-year-old age group most likely to be affected by this strain of influenza. I use public transportation, I shop in crowded grocery stores and I am constantly interacting with other people. The vaccine not only protects me, but it also aids in preventing transmission of the disease.

For me, a young and healthy individual, the flu would probably be mild, but I would still host the virus. This means I could pass it along to my classmates, my co-workers and to strangers on the subway. Someone with a compromised immune system, or someone with a chronic health problem could have much more severe consequences, such as developing pneumonia or respiratory problems.

I’m doing what I can to prevent people from getting sick; are you?

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

Filed under: Allergies • H1N1 Flu • H1N1 Flu Vaccine

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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.