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* Up to 1,730 children killed
* Up to 362,000 Americans hospitalized
* Only 20 percent in U.S. got vaccinated
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor
WASHINGTON, Jan 15 As many as 80 million
Americans have been infected with H1N1 swine flu, up to 16,000
have been killed and more than 360,000 hospitalized, the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday.
But 90 percent of the most vulnerable people remain
unvaccinated, with only about 61 million Americans having
received shots, the CDC said.
Swine flu vaccine is still widely available, with more than
130 million doses produced and 160 million people at high
priority for getting the vaccine.
The pandemic, which began in March, is on the wane but
health officials stress that influenza is unpredictable and
could come back or mutate.
And this new virus, while it has not caused more deaths
than seasonal influenza, has killed younger people than
seasonal flu does.
About 90 percent of deaths in an average year are among
people over 65, while 90 percent of those seriously ill or
killed by the new virus are much younger and include as many as
Health experts say vaccination is by far the best way to
ensure the virus does not come back or mutate into a new and
more dangerous form, but the vaccine rolled out slowly and the
public is now skeptical of the need to be vaccinated.
The U.S. government struggled for months to work with
vaccine makers to get immunizations out. Now it is struggling
to get rid of tens of millions of doses it purchased.
"As of January 2, an estimated 20.3 percent of the U.S.
population (61 million persons) had been vaccinated, including
27.9 percent of persons in the initial target groups and 37.5
percent of those in the limited vaccine subset," the CDC said
in its report.
"An estimated 29.4 percent of U.S. children aged 6 months
to 18 years had been vaccinated." The CDC said this rate is
similar to what is seen for seasonal influenza, which kills an
estimated 36,000 Americans and up to 500,000 people globally
More pregnant women than usual have been vaccinated -- 38
percent as compared to between 15 percent and 25 percent in an
average year. Pregnant women are always at high risk from any
flu and they accounted for an unusually high percentage of
those sickened and killed by H1N1.
"The results in this report show that nearly 90 percent of
adults aged under 65 years with medical conditions that
increase their risk for influenza-related complications remain
unvaccinated,' the CDC added. These include otherwise healthy
people with asthma or diabetes.
And just 22 percent of healthcare workers say they have
been vaccinated, although they are more likely to be infected
and can infect their vulnerable patients.
Five companies are supplying swine flu vaccine to the U.S.
market -- Sanofi-Aventis (SASY.PA), Novartis NOVN.VX,
AstraZeneca (AZN.L) unit MedImmune, CSL (CSL.AX) and