Video: Swine flu hits young hardest, CDC says

  1. Closed captioning of: Swine flu hits young hardest, CDC says

    >> much.

    >>> now to the swine flu and new information on who is most at risk. nbc's chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman is here with the latest, and it's some eye-opening information, nancy .

    >> eye-opening information, matt. the information is highlighting how different h1n1 is from the regular seasonal flu , with young people being especially hard hit. in fact, in the past seven weeks, more than half of all hospitalizations are people under the ages of 5. 25. as millions of americans prepare to fight off the flu this season, a new reminder from the cdc that h1n1 is a virus all its own.

    >> this is really, really different from what we see with seasonal flu .

    >> reporter: perhaps the biggest difference, the so-called swine flu is hitting young people the hardest. the cdc says of those hospitalized with h1n1 since september 1st , 53% were under the age of 25, 39% about ages 25 to 64, and only 7% were 65 or older. as for deaths, nearly 24% of those who have died were under the age of 25. 65% were ages 25 to 64. and nearly 12% were over the age of 65. compared to the seasonal flu , this is a big change.

    >> it's almost completely reversed here. nearly 90% of our fatalities are occurring in people under 65.

    >> reporter: as for the h1n1 vaccine and reports of nationwide shortages, the cdc says progress is being made with more of the vaccine becoming available every day. that's good news for people across the country who have literally been lining up to protect themselves and their families.

    >> and i think the h1n1 has become an epidemic, and i think all parents need to have their children vaccinated.

    >> and nancy , it seems like the world turned upside down. i'm trying to think how many times you and i have sat here.

    >> right.

    >> we've talked about the seasonal flu , we've talked about the very young, infants, and people over 65 who perhaps were ill to begin with being most affected. why is this younger, healthier group being targeted? is there any theory on that?

    >> well, there's no immune recognition. this is a new virus. two things. it's novel, which means it is new to young people . it jumps speacies -- a little bit of bird, little bit of pig and human component. but anyone born after 1968 just hasn't been exposed to any component of this in the environment. so, when young people sort of come face to face with this virus, it's like their immune systems almost overreact. they're just too robust, and that's what's causing a lot of problems, with secondary pneumonia really being the culprit.

    >> there was talk about doctors being very concerned with pregnant women .

    >> right.

    >> now i understand they're also looking at the obese.

    >> yeah. this became little bit of a concern over the summer when one icu in michigan noticed that 10 out of 12 of their patients were really quite heavy. then it raised the question, is obesity an independent risk factor and does that play a role for pregnant women , who we know are being hard hit? it may be that if you're fat, you just can't move your lungs as well and clear out little bits of mucus, but we know pregnant women are also at risk because there's some immune system change being pregnant and because they don't move their lungs as well.

    >> doctors are saying in the cases where the virus becomes fatal --

    >> yes.

    >> -- it moves very, very fast. so, it begs the question, what are the signs people, parents, anyone should be looking for where you say to yourself, no, i'm not going to fight this at home, i'm getting to a hospital?

    >> it's very efficient. for most people, it can be fought at home. but really high fever that doesn't go away in 24 or 48 hours , any kind of dehydration -- because some people are reporting nausea and vomiting with this. and boy, if you have shortness of breath and you have chest pain and you're really having difficulty breathing , that's a 911 call, because we know that teenagers who are getting into trouble really have that difficulty breathing as the seminole concern.

    >> and really quickly, because there's been talk about the shortage in the vaccines, where is the best place people can go to get information on where and when they can get the vaccine.

    >> cdc has the best website, flu.gov. it's very frustrating for everybody. we knew this might happen. there is this overlap of people getting sick and not yet enough vaccine everywhere. the rollout is coming. it's been slower than anybody wanted. it will get to a place near you. check with your county health department , your pediatrician. but most pediatricians, in fact, are not carrying it, matt. you'll have to look for some other place for distribution.

    >> flu.gov.

    >> flu.gov, a really, really good website.

    >> nancy , thank you very much.

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 10/21/2009 11:41:22 AM ET 2009-10-21T15:41:22

A top-ranking official of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says production of a vaccine for swine flu virus is behind schedule and people should take precautionary steps to prevent its spread.

Dr. Anne Schuchat said "more vaccine is coming out every day" but production isn't where it was expected to be at this juncture. Interviewed on CBS's "The Early Show" Wednesday, Schuchat said "we wish we had more vaccine, but unfortunately the virus and the production of the vaccine aren't really cooperating."

For people anxious about getting their vaccinations, she said officials expect "widespread availability" by mid-November. Schuchat heads the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Vaccine manufacturers have told CDC to anticipate at least 25 percent less vaccine than the 40 million doses originally promised by the end of the October. Only about 28 million doses are now expected by month's end, CDC officials said.

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The problem, the manufacturers said, is that the yield of antigen, the substance that triggers infection-fighting antibodies, has been lower than expected.

The best advice is for people to check with their state and local health officials, including their own doctors, to see when the vaccine might be available in their area. Schuchat acknowledged at a press conference last week that the vaccine delays might be frustrating for people alarmed by reports of serious illness and death caused by swine flu.

Where can I get a flu shot? "It will be pretty challenging to find vaccine," Schuchat said. "It's not enough considering the demand we're seeing."

The delay comes even as the H1N1 virus is causing more hospitalizations and deaths, primarily in people younger than 25. Data from 27 states reported that nearly 5,000 people had been hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed cases of H1N1 between Sept. 1 and Oct. 10. Nearly 300 people had died in that same period, according to confirmed reports from 28 states, Schuchat told reporters Monday.

Those figures underestimate the actual toll of the disease, Schuchat added.

"This is really, really different from what we see from seasonal flu," she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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