Experts: Swine flu cases down, but only temporarily
December 4, 2009 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Around the country and in the Chicago area, the number of swine flu cases is on the decline. Experts warn the drop-off is temporary.
Health experts are worried about a new trend - fewer people are going to clinics to get the H1N1 vaccine
Chicago health officials are considering recommending the H1N1 vaccine to everyone.
"I do have concerns that people will stop taking this seriously and stop trying to protect themselves," said Dr. Julie Morita, Chicago Department of Health.
The complacency may be due to the fact fewer people are getting sick. Nationally, visits to doctors by those reporting flu symptoms fell for the fourth straight week.
However, the numbers remains higher than normal for this time of year.
In Chicago, the health department said swine flu cases peaked in early to mid-November. Experts say the slowdown in the spread of the flu is normal, and as many as two more outbreak waves are possible.
"We don't know how likely a future wave of H1N1 influenza is this year but we do know that the more people who are vaccinated the less likely we'll have more spread in the coming months," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, Centers for Disease Control.
Experts expect the next spike in early January which is after families have gathered for the holidays - sharing not only gifts but viruses. Kids are then sent back to school.
"One or two sick kids will then spread it through-out th ethe school. They'll have an outbreak and then the outbreak is passed to the community. We've seen that happen more than a few times," said Capt. Raymond Strikas, U.S. Public Health Service.
In Chicago, health officials will soon have gone through 300,000 doses of the H1N1 vaccine all to priority patients. When can the rest of us get it?
"In the very near future we'll be making a recommendation to broaden it. I just can't say when," said Dr. Morita.
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