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Assessment and Thanks as Flu Wave Ebbs in U.S.

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“And, of course,” added Kathleen Sebelius, after summing up the accomplishments of eight months of battling swine flu, “we’ve taught everyone how to sneeze.”

With that, Ms. Sebelius, the health and human services secretary, bent her elbow across her face and sent a delicate imitation of a virus-loaded “kerchoo!” into the sleeve of her quilted Christmas-red jacket.

The nine federal officials leading the fight against the H1N1 flu gathered for a news conference here on Thursday to review the progress made since the virus was spotted in late April and to thank the hundreds of thousands of Americans — including doctors, vaccine plant workers and schoolteachers — who had labored in the effort.

Ms. Sebelius said it was time to “focus on the next phase of H1N1,” and she pressed everyone to get vaccinated.

About 100 million doses of swine flu vaccine are now available, which is close to the amount of seasonal flu vaccine used in a typical year. Some cities are reporting surpluses and releasing them to doctors’ offices and to pharmacy and supermarket clinics, telling them to vaccinate everyone — not just students and pregnant women, who have until now been the focus of vaccination drives.
 
 

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