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January 14th, 2013
07:51 AM ET

Flu outbreak in 47 states as people scramble for vaccine – Elizabeth Cohen reports

CNN continues to follow the miserable flu outbreak that is weighing down on the country. The CDC says the flu is now widespread in all states except California, Mississippi, and Hawaii. New York Governor Cuomo even declared a public health emergency this weekend. CNN Sr. Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has the latest on the flu and what health officials mean when they call it an "epidemic."

“Basically, people are getting sick and dying from the flu in certain numbers,” Cohen explains. “When those numbers get high enough, we call it an epidemic.” But Cohen urges not to focus on that word. “Nearly every year there is an epidemic.”

Cohen also explains the significance of Governor Cuomo’s announcement. He’s also telling pharmacies that they can vaccinate kids, while in other years they have to go to their doctors for that. Still, pharmacies are choosing not to vaccinate children. “We put out...many phone calls to, pharmacies in New York, and the pharmacies we called, none of them are offering shots to kids,” Cohen says. In addition, these same pharmacies said they didn't really have enough even for adults.

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Filed under: Epidemic • Flu • Medical
January 11th, 2013
05:45 AM ET

Flu outbreak spreads geographically, but number of people with symptoms down; CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen reports

The fast-spreading flu is now officially an epidemic. This year's flu season has come early—and hit hard. Nearly two dozen children have died. CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is live in Fort Worth, Texas with a mixed bag of details and some good news.

“The flu activity in this country has gone down a bit,” Cohen says. “Two weeks ago we were talking about 29 states having high levels of flu activity. Now we're talking about 24 states having high level of flu activity. That is good news.”

Meanwhile, the outbreak has reached a wider scale. “We’re seeing less flu in the United States, but it is spread out more. Geographically it has spread out to more locations,” Cohen explains. “So, to put that in terms of numbers, two weeks ago, 41 states were seeing widespread activity, meaning it was throughout various regions of their state. Now 47 states say they're seeing flu in various regions of their state. So spread out more, but the actual number of people who are having flu symptoms has actually gone down.”

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Filed under: Epidemic • Flu • Medical