While rumors of optimism have emerged from the federal government shutdown, in the shadow of two all-night bargaining sessions involving White House staffers and some members of Congress, health experts are getting increasingly nervous over the shutdown's suspension of the national flu surveillance program.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's flu activity report, dubbed "FluView," has been missing for two weeks now. Quite simply, the nation's medical experts are in the dark when it comes to which flu cases are picking up, what strains are circulating and whether they match strains in the vaccine.
CDC officials say that if a nasty strain broke out, they might be able to call in furloughed employees to respond, but Dr. James Nordin, clinical investigator at HealthPartners Institute told the Pentagon Post that he's concern about the lack of information on national flu activity and particularly the lack of knowledge on antiviral sensitivity of flu strains.
"I think that's the single biggest problem," said Nordin, adding that he's concerned that a CDC-funded program to monitor the safety of vaccines has been suspended because of the shutdown.