At the recent National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) news conference, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden joined the discussion, which called for all Americans to get vaccinated against the flu before the upcoming season.
Two years ago, the H1N1 flu pandemic blew through the country, leading to thousands of deaths and even more hospitalizations. On September 21, 2011, some of the country's top health and medical experts convened in Washington, D.C., to determine whether or not the country is prepared for the upcoming season.
Several medical experts, including Dr. Frieden, met at the conference and conferred with many representatives from academia, government, and health professional societies.
Topics discussed included the amount and availability of this year's vaccine, as well as the various options for receiving the vaccine. This year, it can be administered with a much smaller needle, or even in the form of a nasal spray.
"There are too many illnesses and deaths from influenza each year," Frieden said. "Everyone over 6 months should get a flu shot this year and every year."
Every year the flu causes an estimated 200,000 hospitalizations and an average of 26,000 deaths. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has also released guidelines for employers to follow in the event of an influenza pandemic, including encouraging workers to wash their hands frequently, and to avoid touching their noses, mouths, and eyes. OSHA urges employees to wear certain safety supplies, such as surgical masks, goggles, faceshields, or respirators, to help prevent the spread of infection.