KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Swine Flu Cases Appear To Have Peaked

The Los Angeles Times:"The current wave of pandemic H1N1 appears to have peaked, with four weeks of declines in several key indicators, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday. Despite the decrease, the outbreak is continuing to take a heavy toll of hospitalizations and deaths, especially among children. Widespread activity of H1N1, also called swine flu, was reported in 32 states ... in the week ending Nov. 21, down from 43 states the week before and 48 a month ago. Influenza-like illnesses accounted for 4.3% of all visits to doctors' offices during the week, down from nearly double that proportion in October. That is still well above the normal level, 2.3%, for this time of year, however" (Maugh, 12/1). 

The Washington Post: "While officials warned that the number of people getting infected with the H1N1 virus remains high, and cases could surge again, the extended period of falling activity suggests that the intensity of the outbreak has reached a high. ... 'We're far from being out of the woods,' [Thomas Skinner, spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta] said. 'There's still a lot of flu out there. And we wouldn't be surprised to see another uptick in activity as we approach the end of December and beginning of January, when kids come back from Christmas break.' But other experts said they thought the wave had peaked" (Stein, 12/1).

USA Today reports: "The steady decline in the USA and elsewhere prompted the World Health Organization to propose Friday that swine flu may have peaked in North America, the Caribbean and parts of Europe, though the 'winter influenza season continues to be intense.' U.S. officials challenged WHO's hopeful assessment, saying it is too soon to declare that swine flu is tapering off. ... As of Monday, 66 million doses of swine flu vaccine were available for states to order, and more were on the way, the CDC's Thomas Skinner says" (Sternberg, 11/30).

Meanwhile, The San Bernardino (Calif.) Sun reports that fewer blacks are receiving the vaccine: "San Bernardino County public health officials this week plan to make a special pitch to get more blacks to roll up their sleeves for the H1N1 vaccine. ... Alonzo Louis Plough, director of emergency preparedness and response at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said last week that his agency had already made attempts at special outreach and participation in the H1N1 campaign, and participation is still lagging. ... Dr. Eric Frykman, health officer for Riverside County, said that he has asked clinic managers to informally start tracking participation by ethnic group" (Steinberg, 11/29). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.