How the Federal Government is Preparing for Possible Swine Flu Emergency

By Allison Bond | July 10, 2009 6:50 pm

vaccinationIt’s unknown whether the swine flu virus will mutate to a more deadly strain in the coming year, but the federal government is preparing for the worst in case the pandemic continues to spread. At yesterday’s flu summit at the National Institutes of Health, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius revealed the government’s provisions for a possible swine flu emergency.

The campaign to combat the swine flu is different from the strategy usually employed against the seasonal flu. One reason is that the swine flu appears to be most deadly to children and young adults, while the seasonal flu traditionally is most fatal to the elderly. Therefore, if mass vaccination becomes necessary, school-aged children will be among the first to be immunized; this likely will occur at school, in a manner reminiscent of the 1950s polio vaccination campaign. “We are likely to have a different target population,” Sebelius said. “We will be seeking partnerships with schools potentially and other vaccination sites.” Time will have to be spent writing consent forms so parents are not blindsided when schools ask to vaccinate their children, Sebelius said [Reuters]. States should also prepare a plan for closing schools if needed.

Producing enough vaccine to prepare for a possible emergency will be no simple feat. The federal government should get about 100 million doses of vaccine by mid-October, if the current production by five companies goes as planned. But enough vaccine for wide use by the 120 million people especially vulnerable to the newly emerged strain of H1N1 influenza virus will not be available until later in the fall [Washington Post]. Besides children, those for whom the government considers swine flu vaccination especially urgent are adults with chronic diseases, health-care workers and pregnant women.

In total, U.S. government officials and manufacturers are preparing to produce as many as 600 million doses of vaccine against the new H1N1 virus, an effort that would dwarf seasonal-flu campaigns [The Wall Street Journal]. The federal government is also setting aside $350 million to help state and local health care systems accommodate the possible increase in immunizations and hospital admissions. That’s on top of the $8 billion already invested thus far on the vaccine and other tools to combat the pandemic.

Related Content:
80beats: Swine Flu Goes Deeper Into the Body Than Regular Flu–Even Into Intestines
80beats: Swine Flu Patient Develops Tamiflu-Resistant Strain
80beats: CDC: Swine Flu Won’t Be Taking a Summer Vacation
80beats: Swine Flu to Be Declared a Pandemic–But It’s Not as Bad as It Might Sound

Image: iStockPhoto

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Living World
  • CB_Brooklyn

    The Swine Flu Propaganda Explained

    Press Release – Researchers Question Nature, Cause and Treatment of “Swine Flu” Outbreak

  • My Reference Frame

    Hopefully this won’t be an issue but the swine flu has killed more than 170 people in the United States already alot of them were younger adults (though with underlyng medical conditions). Glad the government is getting ahead of things on this one.

  • Carman

    Um, CB? Is that satire? Cause if so, funny … if not, seriously?

  • Andrew Johnson

    Wow – 2 posters here favour injection of toxic substances as a way of controlling an exaggerated outbreak, hyped by media with some victims not even named? Is it me, or…?

  • Katie

    It is you. Discover is a magazine about actual science. Who do you expect to find?

  • CB_Brooklyn

    Is Discover Magazine (or any magazine, newspaper, radio/TV news, for that matter) a substitution for ones own ability to think?

    A good motto to live by:

    “Those interested in knowing the truth of things are encouraged to check the evidence for themselves instead of believing what they are told to believe.”


    Ah I see Katie – so you haven’t checked the science that says vaccines contain toxic substances – such as mercury, bits of other animal viruses and other strange chemicals.

    Science is about checking ALL the evidence, not just that favoured by a government or corporate contract (often interchangeable these days).

    But of course, if one ignores evidence and doesn’t research widely, then one will draw flawed conclusions i.e. the value of any conclusions drawn is inversley proportional to the amount of evidence ignored.

    Try this CBS 1976 documentary, for example:

    Oops looks like the CDC ignored evidence – how surprising.

    So what can we Discover then? Quite a lot it seems…


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