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Swine Flu Vaccination May Target Schools

Obama Administration Says H1N1 Swine Flu Vaccine May Be Ready in October
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Production of Swine Flu Vaccine continued...

Results of the trials are expected in August, said Anthony Fauci, MD, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. After that, companies are likely to start producing a vaccine with a plan to distribute doses by October.

"We're probably talking about tens of millions of doses in early October," Fauci said.

Bruce Gellin, MD, head of the National Vaccine Program at the Department of Health and Human Services, said companies could produce as much as 100 million doses of H1N1 swine flu vaccine. "This is, if all goes well," he said.

At the same time, epidemiologists are closely monitoring the Southern hemisphere, where flu season is in full swing. Flu viruses mutate easily, and scientists are watching to see if the current H1N1 virus undergoes genetic changes that make it easier to spread, more resistant to vaccine protection, or more lethal.

Officials are also trying to coordinate with state and local officials. They need to set up protocols for vaccine distribution, anti-viral drug distribution, and guidelines for closing schools where infected students are found.

Hundreds of schools across the nation closed for days or weeks at a time during the spring after students became infected with swine flu. In New York City, where the outbreak was particularly strong, 55 schools closed, 900 people were hospitalized, and more than 45 people died.

Officials still have not decided exactly which age groups will be recommended to get the vaccine. That decision is likely to come at the end of July when the federal Advisory Council on Immunization Practices meets in Atlanta.

Anne Schuchat, MD, who heads the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, told state and local officials to expect "a very busy fall."

"This is a time for aggressive planning, and I hope you recognize that we have a lot to plan for," she said.

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