HHS Plans Swine Flu Vaccination Campaign

WASHINGTON

Near the start of the 2009-2010 school year, U.S. officials will be launching an H1N1 (swine flu) vaccination campaign, according to Reuters.

During a summit at the National Institutes of Health campus, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that unlike the annual seasonal influenza campaign, this one will be different, as the target population for H1N1 is most likely older children and young adults. Additionally, the vaccine will most likely be given as two doses.

Because of this, Sebelius said consent forms will have to be created for schools to vaccinate children. In some cases, state and local officials must also be prepared to close schools if necessary.

Hospitals, too, must prepare for a potential outpouring of people infected by the virus, by making room to admit possibly hundreds of sick individuals all at once, Sebelius noted.

It is unclear whether the H1N1 virus will remain mild, or if it will become more severe as it spreads when it comes back in the autumn months.

Currently, companies are working to create a vaccine for H1N1. On July 23, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will conduct an advisory panel to discuss clinical trials of the vaccines against the virus.

Furthermore, the Center of Disease Control (CDC) has released the following best-case planning scenarios, by chance there is limited vaccine available during an outbreak:

Target population: Students and staff (all ages) associated with schools (K-12 grade) and children (age =6 months) and staff (all ages) in child care centers.

Primary venues: schools and child care centers.

Goals: Provide direct protection against illness among persons who have high attack rates of illness, reduce likelihood of outbreaks that may lead to disruptive school dismissals, reduce transmission from schools into homes and the community.

Adherence to these guidelines will require state and local authorities to carry out extensive planning to reach school-aged populations either through venues such as school-associated mass vaccination efforts, or, where private capacity is sufficient, through local pediatric providers. Local pediatric care providers may play a particularly prominent role in vaccinating preschool-aged children who have a medical home. These planning efforts will reinforce longer-term immunization targets of strengthening vaccination efforts in these populations, and building links between health and education. The disruptive outbreaks prevalent in schools and some universities in the spring of 2009 may provide impetus for these planning steps to move forward actively. They will also permit strengthening capacity for seasonal influenza vaccination of school-aged children in future seasons.

Target population: Health care workers and emergency services sector personnel (regardless of age).

Primary venue: Occupational settings, providers’ offices.

Goal: Reduce risk of illness, sustain health system functioning, and reduce absenteeism among front-line providers; reduce transmission from emergency services personnel and health care workers to patients; provide additional worker protection in settings of increased exposure; reinforce importance of influenza vaccination among all health care workers.

Note: Immunization of military (e.g., deployed forces) may be appropriate given the current circumstances; however, this memo focuses on vaccination of civilian populations under the authority of CDC and state and local health departments.

Vaccine Availability Considerations: If vaccine is widely available, CDC would recommend offering vaccine at multiple venues to anyone who wants to be vaccinated. Although the benefits of vaccine may be greatest in the persons in groups at increased risk, and interest in being vaccinated may be lower among the general population, offering vaccine to everyone can reduce the risk of influenza for general population may reduce transmission to unvaccinated persons. At the same time, if vaccine supply is limited, it will be important to consider a balance between international needs for vaccine in relation to the vaccination of low risk individuals in the United States.

For more information, click here.

Pandemic flu information can also be found at www.CampusSafetyMazagine.com/PandemicFlu

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