On Saturday, January 20, 2018 the government shut down. Many people are wondering how this shutdown will affect flu season. The Center for Disease Control was going to shut down the flu program, but they later decided against it.
This has been a severe flu season. Almost every state has widespread flu activity. The vaccine is relatively ineffective, which is making flu season worse. Unless the government shut down lasts until the spring, it will likely not have much of an effect on flu season. The Center for Disease Control is essential for keeping tabs on the flu epidemic. However, the local and state agencies do most of the work.
Dr. Jones is an epidemiologist who works for the Tennessee Department of Health. He stated that the Center for Disease Control does not collect the front-line data. They report the information that comes from the state and local health departments. Data collection will be on hold until the government shut down ends.
There are also other ways that a long-term government shut down can affect flu season. Federal funding is used for flu testing. Most public health departments are able to do their own flu testing. However, the CDC has contracts with labs that determine the exact strains.
If the government shutdown continues, then people will not know about the strains that are causing the flu. The strain can mutate, which make the flu vaccine less effective than what it already is. Some patients may require more aggressive treatment with antiviral drugs.
Additionally, a long-term shutdown could affect next year’s vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration typically meets in March to determine what strains of the virus to put in the vaccine. A meeting date for this year has not been determined.
The Senate is going to vote on Monday, January 22, 2018 at 12:00 p.m. to determine whether the shutdown will continue. If the government reopens soon, then there is nothing to worry about.