Monday, July 13, 2009

U.S. moves forward with preparations for H1N1 vaccination campaign

The Obama administration on Thursday said a nationwide vaccination program could begin as early as mid-October to protect Americans from the H1N1 (swine flu) virus and pledged $350 million to help prepare communities across the country for this effort.

"I think it's clear that although we were fortunate not to see a more serious situation in the spring when we first got news of this outbreak, the potential for a significant outbreak in the fall is looming," President Obama said, speaking by phone from the G8 summit in Italy to U.S. health officials who gathered in Maryland for a daylong flu summit organized by his Cabinet, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. "We want to make sure that we are not promoting panic, but we are promoting vigilance and preparation," he said.

"The White House has drawn up a battle plan for taking on the virus when influenza season returns to the northern hemisphere in several weeks' time," contingent on the development of a viable H1N1 vaccine. Clinical trials on the first H1N1 vaccine are scheduled to start next month, according to Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "We know that a safe and effective vaccine is the best means of both preventing the disease in individuals and stopping the community spread of the virus," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said.

U.S. moves forward with preparations for H1N1 vaccination campaign

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