Child H1N1 Swine Flu Deaths Accelerate
11 Child Deaths in Past Week as H1N1 Swine Flu Sweeps U.S.
Oct. 16, 2009 -- Eleven children died of H1N1 swine flu last week,
raising the October child/teen death toll to 43 -- more pediatric deaths in one
month than seen in a bad September-to-May flu season.
Overall, 86 children and teens under age 18 have died
from the H1N1 swine flu. Half the deaths have been in teens between the ages of
12 and 17.
"These are very sobering statistics and, unfortunately, they are likely to
increase," Anne Schuchat, MD, director of the CDC's National Center for
Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said at a news conference.
Of the 43 pediatric H1N1 swine flu deaths since Sept. 30:
- Three deaths were in children under age 2.
- Five deaths were in children ages 2 to 4.
- 16 deaths were in children ages 5 to 11.
- 19 deaths were in teens ages 12 to 17.
"This is a very brisk number for a whole season. From September all the way
to May you would have only 40 or 50 pediatric deaths, and in just one month's
time we have had that many," Schuchat said. "Of course, some have underlying
conditions, such as muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy, but some have
been completely healthy and this really hits home for people."
She stressed the warning signs for parents to look out for:
- Difficulty waking
- Not taking feeding well
- Trouble breathing
- A blue or grayish tint to the skin
- Illness that gets better but begins getting worse.
Child deaths aren't the only sign that H1N1 swine flu is on the rise. Last
week, pandemic flu was widespread in 41 states, up from 37 states in the
previous week. And deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza -- a
measure of flu severity -- went over the "epidemic threshold" for the first
time this fall.
"It is unprecedented for this time of year for the whole country to see such
levels of influenza activity," Schuchat said.
Slowdown in H1N1 Swine Flu Vaccine Production
Meanwhile, manufacturers are having a hard time making as much H1N1 swine flu vaccine as they'd
The new prediction is that there will be 28 million to 30 million vaccine
doses available for order by the end of October -- down from a recent
prediction of 40 million doses by that time.
As of Oct. 14, the U.S. had 11.4 million doses on hand, and states had
placed orders for 8 million doses -- 2.2 million more doses than had been
ordered just two days before.
"We wish we had more, but it doesn't look like we will make our estimates
for the end of the month," Schuchat said. "Production estimates will be lower,
but do still eventually expect to have the large number of doses we were
talking about. But next couple of weeks will continue to be a slow start."
By mid-November, Schuchat said, it's hoped that the vaccine will be readily
available in most locations. By the end of December, it's hoped that all 250
million doses the U.S. has purchased will be delivered.