The American Nurses Association (ANA) Dept. of Nursing Practice and Policy presents the following information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
CDC is reporting an uptick in of hospitalizations for severe H1N1 influenza illness among adults, as well as an overall increase in H1N1 activity. Anne Schuchat, MD, MPH, Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said regarding on the situation:
“Recently, Georgia has seen more laboratory confirmed influenza hospitalizations each week than they've seen at any time since October. The data suggests that the increase in hospitalizations required by the H1N1 strain, not by other seasonal influenza viruses, and we don't have any evidence at this time that the H1N1 virus has changed in Georgia. It's the same as what we're seeing in earlier months. Most of the hospitalizations that we've seen have occurred in other adults with underlying conditions that put them at higher risks of severe influenza. The adults with chronic illnesses or advanced age who are more likely to become severely ill if they encounter the H1N1 virus.”
Despite the overall low activity nationwide, several states have seen increases. Activity last week was reported as “Regional” in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, and “Local” in several other states, including Louisiana, Mississippi, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas, up from the weeks prior.
H1N1 is still circulating, and vaccination – especially for minority and other traditionally underserved populations – is critical to thwarting a full-blown third wave. Since disease activity has been low since late December and the subsequent lull in media coverage, public demand for vaccine has dwindled. Vaccine is widely available, and unused vaccine will have to be discarded. Expiration dates for vaccine vary by manufacturer and lot number, but range from mid-April to late June. The ANA urges all nurses to be vaccinated, and to encourage their patients, family, colleagues and communities to be vaccinated as well.
For a full report on the H1N1 activity for the week of March 26, visit http://cdc.gov/h1n1flu/updates/us/.
For more information on H1N1, including where to find a flu vaccine clinic, visit www.flu.gov.