Swine Flu Vaccine: When?
Swine Flu Vaccine Timeline: Key Decisions, Key Milestones
Who Will Want the Swine Flu Vaccine?
A decision will be made whether to deploy pandemic swine flu vaccine for some or all U.S. residents. If that happens, the CDC will begin an intensive campaign to persuade people at high risk of flu complications to get vaccinated. The program will have to address issues of vaccine safety in a straightforward manner. "Public trust is crucial; we risk it at our peril. If we risk public trust with bad vaccination decisions, it will take us years to recover," Pavia warns.
"You are going to have less data than you want to make a decision on the go or no-go, but you are going to have to make it on the best available data at the time," says Gellin. "The middle of September is where all this stuff theoretically converges. That is the point where at least we think we will have preliminary data to see how the vaccine is performing and say where are we with this epidemic and what is the situation."
October Through December
If a vaccine has not already been rushed into use, officials will make final preparations for vaccination programs in early October. This will include a priority list of who gets the vaccine first.
By late November, the first clinical studies of pandemic swine flu vaccine will be completed. If results differ from preliminary findings, vaccination programs will be adjusted.
Even if unexpected events delay a vaccination program, most experts think vaccine will be ready by the end of December. That means huge numbers of Americans will be offered the vaccine before flu season hits its usual peak in January or February. Even if there's already been a second pandemic wave, this will blunt new waves of pandemic illness.
But will Americans accept a vaccine that arrives after the pandemic peaked? Will safety concerns wreck the expensive program? Even the best laid plans often go awry.