Influenza virus electron micrograph

Where Has Influenza Gone?

If you’re an infectious disease geek — and who isn’t these days? — you may have noticed that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have not sent out any alerts over influenza this influenza season. (In the United States, influenza season is from October to May.) In fact, if you look at CDC’s influenza surveillance reports, it seems that influenza has all but disappeared. You can even drill-down on the data further and see that influenza is active at very low levels across all age groups. So where has influenza gone?

The Economics of Immunizations

A few days ago, we posted about the measles epidemic in Madagascar and how the number of deaths had passed 1,200 cases, most of them children. One of the things that I found striking about the situation there is the cost of the measles vaccine. It is so expensive that families with several children often weigh which child will get the one vaccine dose they can afford. A family makes about $2 per day, with a vaccine dose costing upwards of $15. Imagine having to work more than two weeks to afford a single vaccine that can save your child’s life.