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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

CDC director: Flu spreading early but vaccine a strong match

Influenza transmission is beginning early for the 2012-2013 season, but the vaccine appears to be strong match with about 90% of circulating virus, said Thomas Frieden, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This year's strains look to be a great match with this year's vaccine,” Frieden said at a Dec. 3 press conference. “We've seen an increase in flu that's over the threshold that suggests that the flu season has started. So about 2.2% of all of the visits variable in different parts of the country are for illnesses that are like the flu. A significant proportion of which will end up being flu. That's higher in five states that have high level activity, and have as many as 4% or more of their visits, flu-related symptoms. This is the earliest regular flu season we've had in nearly a decade, since the 2003-2004 flu season."

Nearly half of all pregnant women have been vaccinated already, with the CDC finding that the biggest predictor of whether a pregnant woman is vaccinated being whether her obstetrician offers vaccination in the office. “Nearly three-quarters of pregnant women who are offered a vaccine in the office get vaccinated,” Frieden said.

In information for health care workers, Frieden estimated that between 80% and 90% percent of pharmacists, doctors and nurses are getting immunized.

“The vaccine is widely available -- there are already over 120 million doses out there to be had,” he said.