Health Team

Health officials say flu vaccine will be ready early

Posted June 2, 2010 5:40 p.m. EDT
Updated June 2, 2010 7:10 p.m. EDT

— Health officials say North Carolina can expect a typical flu season this fall and winter – and – this time, a vaccine will be ready early.

“I think as soon as they can get it, as soon as it becomes available, August, September, October - you should go get the vaccine,” said Dr. David Weber, an epidemiologist and associate director of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

The new flu vaccine will be an all-in-one shot that will , include the an H1N1 strain along with other active forms of the flu virus, Weber said. It should provide protection throughout the flu season, which lasts until April or early May.

The H1N1 flu virus threat caught health officials off-guard last year – it first appeared in the U.S. in the spring and struck in North Carolina in the summer – by appearing and peaking before a vaccine could be produced and made available in mass quantities.

H1N1 led to the deaths of about 13,000 Americans and more than 200,000 hospitalizations last year.

Most people who died or were hospitalized with H1N1 last year had underlying health problems, Weber said.

“A third or so of the patients didn’t have any risk factors, so even healthy people need to take the shot,” he said. “Ten-thousand people dying is really a terrible tragedy and really everybody should take their flu shots.”

This year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is doing away a the long laundry list of who should get the shot first, such as people over age 65, people with heart disease and pregnant women. Now the recommendation is anyone over 6 months of age.

People with conditions like an egg allergy should avoid the vaccine, officials said.