John G. Bartlett, MD

Disclosures

July 28, 2010

For the latest on H1N1 Influenza, see our H1N1 Alert Center.

Recent Developments in Influenza

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the rapid test for detecting the agent of the 2009 influenza virus on June 21, 2010.[1] This is the test that was used in the 2009-2010 influenza pandemic, authorized in April, 2009 by the FDA under the new Emergency Use Authority. But the Emergency Use Authority stops when the pandemic is over. This more recent FDA clearance of the test under standard rules is important because this same strain is anticipated to be the dominant H1N1 strain in the 2010-2011 influenza season.

Other key developments include the following:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on June 22, 2010 that it would not endorse mandatory influenza vaccination for healthcare workers.[2]

  • The CDC now recommends (surgical) face masks instead of the N-95 respirators for healthcare workers during all contact with influenza patients. This represents a welcome change in CDC policy and follows the same recommendation previously made by the Association of Professionals in Infection Control, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.[2]

  • On June 24, 2010, the Association of Professionals in Infection Control recommended that children 6 months to 9 years of age who have not received at least 1 dose of the monovalent flu vaccine should receive 2 doses of the next season's flu vaccine. This recommendation was made on the basis of a study showing a good immune response in only 20% of children in this age range following a single vaccine dose.[3]

  • Flu vaccination rates in the United States increased by an average of 8% in the 2009-2010 season, presumably as a result of national publicity on the topic.[4]

  • Pandemic H1N1 flu vaccine discarded: 40 million doses expired on June 28, 2010 and will be discarded.[5]This represents 25% of the 162 million doses purchased. Another 32 million doses will expire next year and might be used if this pandemic agent comes early.

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