U.S. government to pay for flu vaccine campaign
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government will pay for any vaccination program against the H1N1 swine flu, and may encourage schools to help vaccinate children, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on Thursday.
The government is also considering buying even more antiviral drugs, including more of GlaxoSmithKline's inhaled drug Relenza and pediatric doses of Roche AG's Tamiflu, officials told a swine flu "summit" at the National Institutes of Health.
Sebelius said plans were on track for a mid-October vaccination program, and she urged states and territories to get plans in place now. It will likely run alongside the annual seasonal flu vaccine campaign and may include schools and other non-traditional sites as vaccination centers.
"At mid-October we might have as much as 100 million doses of vaccine," HHS vaccine expert Dr. Bruce Gellin told the meeting.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said clinical trials would likely begin in August to make sure the new H1N1 vaccines are safe, and to see which dose will be best. "All of this seems to be pretty much on schedule but when you are dealing with vaccines, anything can happen," Fauci said in an interview.
The state health officials at the meeting said they hoped that years of planning for a pandemic were now starting to pay off, and President Barack Obama echoed that sentiment.We may end up averting a crisis. That's our hope," Obama told the summit by video link from the G8 meeting of industrial nations in Italy.
The new virus, which has infected at least a million Americans and which the World Health Organization has designated a pandemic, has killed more than 400 people globally since it emerged in March. It looks mild now -- seasonal flu kills up to 500,000 people in a normal year -- but could change as it circulates.
PREPARING FOR FALL
"We have a little bit more than a month ... to get our acts together," Dr. Anne Schuchat of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said at the meeting.
The federal government has 52 million treatment courses of Tamiflu and Relenza in its strategic national stockpile. Tamiflu, or oseltamivir, is made by Roche under license from Gilead Sciences while Relenza, or zanamivir, is made by Glaxo under license from Australia's Biota Inc.
Dr. Robin Robinson of HHS said the department is also considering buying another tranche of drugs, including zanamivir and pediatric doses of Tamiflu.
A third drug, Biocryst Inc's peramivir, is nearing final trials before approval, Robinson said. "That would be used for severely ill individuals in hospitals," he said.
Having three different drugs would help address the issue of resistance. Some cases of the new H1N1 swine flu have been resistant to Tamiflu and that drug is now generally ineffective against the seasonal version of H1N1, a distant cousin of the pandemic strain.
Federal advisers plan a July 29 meeting to discuss who should get vaccinated.
Companies making an H1N1 vaccine include Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis AG, Baxter International Inc, GlaxoSmithKline, Solvay and nasal spray maker MedImmune, part of AstraZeneca.
FOR YOU PARENTS OF U.S. SCHOOL AGE CHILDREN: ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT YOUR CHILDREN VACCINATED WITH THIS FLU VACCINE, AFTER WHAT YOU HAVE READ ABOUT IT?
Swine flu shots at school: Bracing for fall return
By LAURAN NEERGAARD – 1 hour ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. swine flu vaccinations could begin in October with children among the first in line — at their local schools — the Obama administration said Thursday as the president and his Cabinet urged states to figure out now how they'll tackle the virus' all-but-certain resurgence.
"We may end up averting a crisis. That's our hope," said President Barack Obama, who took time away from the G-8 summit in Italy to telephone another summit back home — the 500 state and local health officials meeting to prepare for swine flu's fall threat.
No final decision has been made on whether to vaccinate Americans, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stressed. That depends largely on studies with experimental batches that are set to start the first week of August — to see if they're safe and seem to work and to learn whether they require one or two doses.
But if all goes well, the federal government will buy vaccine from manufacturers and share it for free among the states, which must then "try and get this in the arms of the targeted population as soon as possible," Sebelius said.
First in line probably will be school-age children, young adults with risky conditions such as asthma, pregnant women and health workers, she said. Unlike regular winter flu, the swine flu seems more dangerous to these groups than to older people.
"Schools are natural places" to offer those vaccines, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said.
Go home and get schools, mayors and other community leaders to spread that message, Sebelius said.
"The last thing we want is millions of parents to be surprised" the day the get-your-kid-vaccinated-at-school note comes home, she said.
Schools do occasionally team up with local health officials for special flu vaccination clinics, but it's not common. More than 140 schools around the country scheduled flu vaccination days last fall, some providing free vaccine. Some vaccinated only students bearing parent consent forms; others opened their doors to entire families.
It will be a confusing fall, Sebelius acknowledged. Doctors' offices, clinics and even grocery stores will be in the midst of dispensing 100 million-plus doses of regular winter flu vaccine — and the swine flu vaccine, which will roll out slowly, will require at least one completely separate inoculation.
"We know a mass vaccination program of even modest scale will involve extraordinary effort on your part," Sebelius told state health workers.
She also announced $350 million in grants to help states prepare, money to be used partly to brace hospitals for a surge of demand from the truly sick and the well-but-worried.
U.S. to vaccinate millions against swine flu
David Brown,Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post
Friday, July 10, 2009
(07-10) 04:00 PDT Washington - --
School-age children will be a key target population for a pandemic flu vaccine in the fall and may get their shots at school in a mass vaccination campaign not seen since the polio epidemics of the 1950s.
The federal government should get about 100 million doses of vaccine by mid-October if the current production by five companies goes as planned. However, enough vaccine for wide use by the 120 million people especially vulnerable to infection with the newly emerged strain of H1N1 influenza virus won't be available until later in the fall.
Those were among the messages administration officials delivered to 500 state, territorial, city and tribal health officials Thursday at a "flu summit" held at the National Institutes of Health's Bethesda, Md., campus.
Children between 6 months and 18 years old, pregnant women, adults with chronic illnesses and health care workers would probably be first in line for the pandemic flu vaccine, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told the gathering.
The federal government has spent about $1 billion on pandemic flu vaccine, with about $7 billion available for more purchases and pandemic countermeasures.
The H1N1 virus, derived from two strains of influenza virus that circulates in pigs, emerged in late in Mexico and southern California. More than 1 million Americans have become ill from it, and 170 have died. Worldwide, it has killed at least 420 people.
So now you know the plan. Considering all the falsehoods, lies, cover-ups, etc, decide what you think is best for your child.
B"H will try to write a longer article on the topic once I have time.