Thursday, February 21, 2008

Flu Outbreaks Increase in United States

Passport Health, the largest provider of vaccines in the United States has already conducted several flu clinics nationwide. “The reality is that several Baltimore area hospitals are reporting crowded emergency rooms,” says Jorge Eduardo Castillo, Passport Health’s spokesman. “People are complaining of flu like symptoms like headache, body aches, coughs and fever, and test results that are positive for flu have almost doubled in the period from late January to February 6 2008.” Flu season last year was relatively smooth; and a lot of that can be attributed to above average immunization rates. “After a season like we had in 2006-2007, people can become complacent and not get their shot altogether.” explains Castillo. “The fact is that flu season will continue until May in Maryland and it is not too late to get your shot. Even if the vaccine does not match the virus strains 100% it still helps, and you can always get FLU MIST, the spray version of the vaccine which is 87% effective even with viral shift.”

Because they are the largest purchasers of vaccines in the nation, Passport Health has an excellent relationship with its suppliers as well as unmatched buying power. “The only entity that buys more vaccines than Passport Health is the federal government. That says a lot about our company,” states founder and CEO Fran Lessans. With over 150 locations nationwide Passport Health is the only network of clinics that specializes in providing vaccines of all kinds. “It is not so much the quantity of doses available in the U.S. that matters. What matters is how they are distributed. Our network does that. We get the vaccines from New York to San Francisco.”

The influenza virus can have a major impact on families and businesses. Each year, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized in the United States—a direct result of influenza. According to the CDC 36,000 Americans die yearly because of influenza. Young children, the elderly, and the immuno-compromised are at greatest risk. The CDC urges those at high risk to get vaccinated, including health care workers, pregnant women, and children ages 6 months to 5 years. Also at risk are asthmatics, anyone who’s 50 or older or who has diabetes, heart disease and other chronic health conditions. Caretakers of individuals at risk should also consider the vaccine. “The CDC also recommends that those who are 65 or older be immunized against Pneumococcal pneumonia. That is the number one complication of the flu. We have plenty of both vaccines available now, including Flu Mist” said Lessans regarding the seriousness of both illnesses. A new version of Flu Mist, the nasal spray flu vaccine, was recently approved for use in children ages 2 to 5.