PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 16, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Hemispherx Biopharma, Inc. (NYSE MKT:HEB) (the "Company" or "Hemispherx") announced that the company will accelerate its experimental program for a new intranasal influenza vaccine combination following a media briefing by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) urging Americans, especially young children and the elderly, to get vaccinated for the emerging flu season immediately (CDC, December 12, 2013), coincidental with National Influenza Vaccination Week. According to the CDC, Flu vaccination prevented an estimated 6.6 million influenza-associated illnesses, 3.2 million medically attended illnesses, and 79,000 hospitalizations during the 2012-2013 flu season," as reported in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report ( MMWR). "CDC also reported today that despite the benefits of flu vaccination, only 40% of Americans 6 months and older had reported getting a flu vaccine this season as of early November 2013." "The estimated benefits of vaccination for the 2012-2013 season are higher than any other season for which CDC has produced similar estimates. These high numbers are attributable to the severity of the season. The report estimates that last season there were a total of 31.8 million influenza-associated illnesses, 14.4 million medically attended illnesses, and 381,000 hospitalizations in the United States." The CDC also reported that children have already died from the flu this season. While the current approved vaccines are not completely effective against all known seasonal influenza strains, officials said they wouldn't know the effectiveness of the current seasonal vaccines until flu season ends. Hemispherx recently announced that its Phase 1/2 clinical trial at the University of Alabama Vaccine Research Clinic of intranasally administered Ampligen ® and FluMist ® is now being expanded based on an analysis of safety results to date conducted by both the Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") and a Data Monitoring Committee, the latter group comprised of a team of independent clinical, basic research, and statistical professionals. Ampligen® is an experimental immunotherapeutic and FluMist® is a live attenuated seasonal influenza vaccine.