Older population may have better immunity to swine flu, CDC says

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Here's some good news for nursing home residents and seniors: New information is emerging that suggests those born before 1957 may be carrying a built-in immunity to the new H1N1 strain, also known as the swine flu.

The swine flu, which is still making its way around the world unabated, is fairly similar in severity to the normal, seasonal strains of flu that infect people every winter, according to recent CDC reports. That seasonal influenza is typically responsible for as many as 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths, 90% of which occur among the senior population. But so far, only 13% of those hospitalized for swine flu have been over the age of 50. According to one CDC official, a strain of H2N2 "Asian flu" that reached pandemic levels in 1957 could be providing the older population with a residual immunity to the current H1N1, which appears to be a close relative of the older strain.

Still, the CDC is working quickly on developing a vaccine for the rest of the population which they hope to have ready by the fall, despite claims from the World Health Organization that vaccine production won't be able to start until at least mid-July. Vaccine season usually peaks in November, though experts say having two rounds of flu inoculations would be better than simply adding a swine flu vaccine to the standard yearly jab.