WASHINGTON (CNN) – The number of Americans who are worried about the H1N1 flu has more than doubled since May, according to a new national poll. But the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday morning also indicates that most Americans have confidence in the government's ability to prevent a nationwide epidemic.
Thirty-nine percent of people questioned say they are worried that they or someone in their immediate family will get the H1N1 flu, with 17 percent suggesting they were concerned but not anymore and 44 percent saying they've never been worried. That 39 percent who say they are worried is more than double the 17 percent who felt the same way in May.
"Back in May, concerns about the flu were ebbing because flu season in the U.S. was nearing its end," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "But the flu didn't go away - it just moved to other places around the world. Now a new flu season is starting, and worries about H1N1 are back."
According to the poll, 59 percent are confident that the federal government can prevent a nationwide epidemic, with four in 10 not optimistic.
"That doesn't mean that the public thinks that the fight against the H1N1 flu will be easy - two-thirds of all adult Americans say they want to get a H1N1 flu shot if one is available, but only half think there will be enough vaccine to go around," adds Holland.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama encouraged all Americans Tuesday to take "common-sense" steps in preparation for an expected resurgence in the H1N1 virus this fall.
Among other things, he said, people should wash their hands frequently and stay home from work if they are ill.
"I know it sounds simple, but it's important and it works" he said at the White House.
"I don't want anybody to be alarmed. But I do want (people) to be prepared."
The president said hospitals need to prepare for an unusually large influx of patients. While the federal government is doing everything possible to prepare for a new H1N1 outbreak, there will likely be "issues coming up over the next several months," he said. The way the virus is "moving is still unpredictable."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Sunday that it would likely be Thanksgiving before the most vulnerable, high priority populations are completely vaccinated against the H1N1 or swine flu virus. In the meantime, Sebelius said parents and schools need to make back-up plans to deal with possible illness.
“We’re playing out a whole variety of scenarios,” Sebelius said on CNN’s State of the Union. “We’re preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.”
Sebelius told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King that the administration was “optimistic” it would have a vaccine available by around mid-October.
“But the regimen will take about five weeks,” Sebelius said, “A first shot, three weeks delay, second shot, and then about two weeks for full immunity. So we’re really need to work between now and Thanksgiving with lots of social mitigation – keeping kids home from school if they’re sick. I would urge every family have a back-up child care plan.”
“If a parent gets sick, was is the plan?,” Sebelius also said Sunday, “because we know the disease spreads quickly and we will not have fully immunized even priority populations until about Thanksgiving.”
“We’re looking at schools as great partners for possible vaccine programs beginning in the fall to get kids immunized as quickly as possible because this is a children’s flu,” the Obama aide also said.
(CNN) – Six high school-aged Senate pages are sick with flu symptoms that could be the H1N1 swine flu, but doctors are "not overly concerned" about an outbreak of the virus on Capitol Hill, Senate Sgt. at Arms Terry Gainer told CNN Wednesday.
Two of the pages have recovered to the point that they are expected back to work Thursday, Gainer said.
Five of the pages received treatment in their rooms at the page dorm on Capitol Hill. One intern, who lives locally, was treated at home.
None was hospitalized.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - An H1N1 flu vaccine should be ready in October if a strain now moving through the southern hemisphere heads north for the fall and winter, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Sunday.
Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," Sebelius said the vaccine still must undergo clinical trials to ensure it is both effective against the virus and safe for people.
"We're on track to have a vaccine ready by mid-October," she said.
“The bottom line is it’s got to be paid for,” Sebelius said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “We all have a shared responsibility, that we all need to play a role,” the Obama Cabinet member added.
Asked about a new proposal from Democrat Rep. Charlie Rangel, Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, that would increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans in order to help finance health care reform, Sebelius replied that “I think everything is on the table and discussions are under way.”
Asked whether the administration would reject any reform proposals that included taxing employer-provided health care benefits, Sebelius was equally equivocally.
There are “no lines in the sand at this point,” she said.
The Obama aide also gave an update on the administration’s preparations to fight the H1N1, or “swine flu,” in the fall when the regular flu season begins.
The HHS Secretary said that if testing of the vaccine goes well, a vaccine should be ready by mid-October.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Sunday that the federal government is doing everything it can to be ready for the traditional flu season this fall and winter, now that the H1N1 swine flu virus has become a global public health concern.
“We are certainly making every effort to be totally prepared,” Sebelius said on CNN’s State of the Union, adding that the production of a swine flu vaccine could begin as early as the end of the summer if a vaccination program is ultimately recommended.
“The good news is it still seems like not such a lethal virus,” Sebelius added. “But we are fully prepared . . . . Preparation is very much under way for what may happen this fall.”
Late last week, the World Health Organization raised its swine flu alert level to 6 – the highest level on WHO’s scale. It signifies the existence of a global pandemic – from the point of view of geographic spread rather than the sheer number of cases.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama said Friday that while the swine flu virus does not appear to be as dangerous as initially thought, Americans should not let down their guard.
"The (H1N1) virus may not have been as virulent as we once feared, but we're not out of the woods yet," Obama said.
The president said Americans should continue to take basic precautions such as frequently washing their hands. He also said the country should prepare for a particularly tough flu season this fall.
Obama made his remarks during a brief surprise appearance at a town hall-style event for the Latino community on the H1N1 virus, as swine flu is officially called. The event, conducted mostly in Spanish, was hosted by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.
The number of confirmed H1N1 flu cases in the United States has nearly doubled to 1,639 cases in 43 states over the last day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on its Web site Friday.
Thursday, the CDC reported it had confirmed 896 cases in 41 states.
Two people have died in the United States in connection with the virus.
Editor's note: John King, CNN's chief national correspondent and "State of the Union" host, examines the news made in Sunday talk and offers up this Monday morning crib sheet on what to watch this week in politics. Please note that all quotes are from rush transcripts and are subject to change. If you'd like to receive a sneak peek of next week's news in your inbox every Sunday, you can sign up for the "Political Ticker newsletter" at http://www.cnn.com/profile/
(CNN) - It was another remarkably busy and newsy Sunday. And Sunday morning TV junkies saw the return of a term of Clinton-era lore: "The Full Ginsburg."
Depending on your perspective, Sunday's cover of Newsweek - featuring a pig's snout on an ominous black background - either reflected your anxiety over the spread of the H1N1 flu virus or was another example of media sensationalism. "Fear and the Flu" was the headline. Read Newsweek's coverage
It's been a week since the Obama administration declared a "national health emergency" over the swine flu spreading out of Mexico. To say there is unease across America is an understatement. That's where "The Full Ginsburg" comes into play.
The administration's top three "flu fighters" - Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano; Health and Human Services head Kathleen Sebelius; and Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control - fanned out to all five Sunday news shows.
There were no "remotes." They visited the studios of ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox and NBC - a feat first pulled off by William Ginsburg, the outspoken and always quotable attorney who represented former White House intern Monica Lewinski of Clinton impeachment fame.
It was a scheduling challenge not only for the Sunday bookers, but a logistics challenge for the security details and motorcade drivers. "We're getting to know each other very well," Sebelius said in an off-camera chat on the "State of the Union" set.
At "State of the Union," we decided this was a perfect opportunity to take the story out of Washington even as we sat on a set in Washington. Viewers asked many of the questions. They came in live by telephone, on CNNpolitics.com and on our Facebook page, and their straightforward style made for an informative conversation.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday morning he has advised his family to avoid "confined places" such as aircraft, subways and classrooms because of the swine flu risk.
Biden made the remarks on NBC's "Today Show," after he was asked what he would tell a family member about traveling to Mexico, where the first cases of the virus - technically known as 2009 H1N1 - were detected.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, is advising people to avoid nonessential travel to Mexico, where the Mexican government suspects 159 deaths have resulted from the infection, most of them in or around Mexico City. Only a fraction of those cases have been confirmed.
"The CDC is concerned that continued travel by U.S. travelers to Mexico presents a serious risk for further outbreaks of swine flu in the United States," the agency says on its Web site.
But Biden appeared to go a step further, saying, "I would tell members of my family, and I have, I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places now. It's not that you're going to Mexico, it's you're in a confined aircraft. When one person sneezes it goes all the way through the aircraft. That's me.
"I would not be, at this point, if they had another way of transportation, (be) suggesting they ride the subway. ... So from my perspective, what it relates to is mitigation. If you're out in the middle of a field and someone sneezes, that's one thing, if you're in a closed aircraft or closed container or closed car or closed classroom it's a different thing."
Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, responded to Biden's comments by saying, "Americans should heed the advice of medical experts when determining how best to manage health concerns during the ongoing swine flu outbreak.
In a written statement, he noted that the CDC "and countless other experts, swine flu should not discourage people from traveling to or within the United States."
"Elected officials must strike a delicate balance of accurately and adequately informing citizens of health concerns without unduly discouraging travel and other important economic activity," he said.
The Travel Association is a "political liaison" for the industry, and markets all modes of travel.
Not long after the "Today Show" aired, Biden released a statement through his spokeswoman, Elizabeth Alexander.