ATLANTA Should consumers later this year be more concerned about getting a vaccine shot for the novel H1N1 strain, should one be developed in time, in place of maybe the seasonal influenza vaccine?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the answer is both — consumers should at least get the seasonal vaccine that’s being produced currently, as well as the novel H1N1 strain that was officially raised to pandemic status earlier this week, should one be available.
“We are continuing to expect to be administering the seasonal influenza vaccine and making sure people get it,” Anne Schuchat, CDC’s director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters in a press briefing Thursday. “Seasonal influenza can be a bad thing. About 36,000 people die from that every year, and it's disproportionately a problem in the elderly and the vaccines that are available can really reduce illness as well as some of the complications,” she said.
The importance around inoculating the population against seasonal flu is in the danger of strain mutation, she said. “Seasonal H1N1 virus that we've had this past year is resistant to Tamiflu. And we really don't want this novel H1N1 virus to become resistant to Tamiflu as well so there can be some benefit from trying to reduce these other infections even in the circumstance of a novel strain,” she advised. “I think it's really premature for us to make any definitive conclusions about the seasonal influenza vaccine, but based on what I know today, I'm not expecting us to change our recommendations about that.”