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September 2011: Flu season preview

September VAERS data is available, so it's time for a Flu-season preview.

As you know, "Flu season" starts in the fall and runs through the winter. Since most people get their Flu vaccinations early in the season, Flu-related VAERS reports start to appear in September and peak in October. Of course, it takes many months for all of the VAERS reports to accumulate (as I describe below), so a look at September data immediately after it has been released gives just a taste of what will happen.

Two years ago, when the H1N1 Flu "pandemic" was in the news, my blog entry showed that September 2009 had over 1000 VAERS reports related to Seasonal Flu vaccinations. By the end of the Flu season, that number had more than doubled, and the September/October total was 5423 (see "A" below).

Last year, with much less of a Flu scare, the numbers were even worse. My blog entry showed that September had 1262 Seasonal-Flu-related VAERS reports, and by the end of the season the September/October total was 6181 (see "B" below).

So what does it look like this year?

Already, September shows 1348 VAERS reports related to Seasonal Flu vaccinations (see "C"). This is more than has appeared in any previous year at this point in the data collection. There are even 365 reports in October, and these are people who were vaccinated, had reactions, reported them, and got them published, all in just 11 days!

For an idea of how the September vaccination numbers grow in the following months, let's look at last September's Flu-related VAERS numbers and see how they changed over the past year.

The graph below shows dates of CDC data releases. For example, the first entry is dated 9/22/10 which means that it accounts for VAERS data up to September 22, 2010 and therefore does not describe the entire month. At that point, there were over 500 Flu-related VAERS reports. By October 5, when September data was "complete," the number was much higher, and by November 3 most of the reports were in for September. The numbers then grew slowly after that.

It is probably the case that the number of people filing Flu-related VAERS reports is high because the number of people are getting Flu vaccinations is high. Like last year, the current Flu serum contains three different strains: Influenza B (Seasonal Flu), H3N2 (Hong Kong), and the 2009 H1N1. It packs a punch, and people are filing more Flu-related VAERS reports than ever before.

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