U.S. health officials urge second dose of A/H1N1 vaccine for kids

vaccineU.S. health officials have asked parents to get their children under 10 years of age fully vaccinated against the A/H1N1 flu virus as another wave of strike might be coming soon.

Hawaii state health department said on Tuesday that, in Hawaii and a number of other states, there are many children who have not received their second dose, and that there are still many children who have not been vaccinated against the A/H1N1 at all.

In Washington state, health officials say that only a quarter of vaccinated kids under age five have received the second dose.

Studies on the A/H1N1 vaccine show that it takes three to four weeks after the second dose before kids under 10 are fully protected.

The second dose of A/H1N1 vaccine for the youngsters under 10, recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), would achieve maximum protection against the new virus, said Hawaii State Epidemiologist Sarah Park.

Experts said parents are aware of the need to get kids vaccinated at the height of influenza breakouts but their attention drops when things normalized.

After nearly a year of news headlines, worry and confusion, the latest statistics released by the CDC find no states reporting widespread influenza activity and only six reporting regional activity.

To wake up the general public, health officials in Ohio warned parents that there is a possibility for a third wave of the A/H1N1 flu.

“Don't let your guard down,” said Dr. William Mercer, director of the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department. “If we learned anything from 1957, there was another wave and that started in the middle of February.”

The seasonal flu is also expected to peak soon, Mercer said, encouraging people to get both the A/H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines.

Dr. Scott Brady, co-chair of Florida Hospital's A/H1N1 task force said:”The A/H1N1 is still out there, and is probably going to stick around for a while.”

He also called for attention to the regular seasonal flu, which generally peaks in the second or third week of February and kills 36,000 adults a year.

With the supplies of A/H1N1 flu vaccine reach to 147 million doses by the end of last week, local health officials are encouraging everyone to get vaccinated.

The A/H1N1 virus is predicted to be the dominant strain of flu that will circulate next year, said Dr. Yuan Po-Tu, medical director of walk-in clinics in Snohomish County, Washington. “So even if the flu doesn't come back this spring, by getting two doses, you're setting them (children) up for protecting them next fall,” he added.

The CDC estimated in December that the A/H1N1 flu had killed 10,000 people in the United States, including 1,100 children and 7,500 younger adults, since the start of the pandemic in April.

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