As swine flu dissipates across the country, with only three states reporting regional influenza activity according to the last FluView report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many hospitals and medical facilities have relaxed the stringent visitation policies that they put in place last fall.
Looking forward, a Federal Drug Administration (FDA) panel decided on Monday to include the H1N1 virus in the cocktail for the next seasonal flu vaccine. This will eliminate the need to receive two vaccines, as was the case this year. The new vaccine will be a one-stop shop for immunity against both seasonal and H1N1 influenza, also reducing production burden on manufacturers.
The media is still reporting the potential for a third wave of infection this spring. H1N1, or swine flu, may have waned but could reemerge as reported in an article in the Washington Post on Tuesday. The CDC is currently trying to determine what fraction of schoolchildren are now immune against the virus.
A CNN article published Tuesday looks at the pandemic from both a physical and an emotional perspective. Public fear was high when the outbreak first reared itself in Mexico, and federal agencies were predicting a death toll of up to 90,000. Thankfully, those numbers did not materialize and the number of deaths during this flu season is so far lower than in your average year (17,000 in the U.S. according to the CDC’s most recent numbers, compared to a yearly average of 36,000 deaths due to seasonal influenza).
While the impact may not have been as devastating as was earlier feared, people did learn to adopt new habits over the course of the pandemic—such as coughing into their sleeves instead of their hands.