About half the US population should get vaccinated against A(H1N1) influenza, but pregnant women and healthcare workers should be at the front of the line, US health advisers agreed on Wednesday.
Up to 160 million doses of flu vaccine will be available for the start of a vaccination campaign planned for mid-October. The Advisory Panel on Immunization Practices recommended that state and local health officials prepare to vaccinate as many as 150 million people.
Each person will likely need two flu vaccine doses and officials said it was not clear exactly how much vaccine would be available and when.
“The main message is that it’s half the population [who are the priority to be vaccinated]. And it’s the younger half of the population, as well as health care workers,” said Kathy Neuzil, ACIP influenza work group chairwoman.
The group nearly unanimously accepted advice from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Human Services Department almost always follow the advice of the committee.
The recommendations said pregnant women, people who care for babies and healthcare workers should be the first protected against the virus — a total of around 41 million people — in the event that not enough vaccine is available.
People at risk of serious complications from catching the flu should follow — and then healthy young adults aged 19 to 24, the panel said.
Members of the panel said young adults should be a priority because they are more likely to become infected and tend to work in places that would accelerate the flu’s spread.
“They penetrate our society at service-level jobs, at entry-level jobs, so there is going to be a lot of transmission from these people,” panel member Carol Baker of the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas told the meeting.
Pregnant women are at special risk from the new strain, and vaccinating them protects their newborns, too, the CDC’s Anthony Fiore told the committee.
A CDC report released earlier on Wednesday showed pregnant women were four times as likely as other people to suffer severe complications and even die from A(H1N1) infection.
Five companies are making A(H1N1) vaccine for the US market — AstraZeneca’s MedImmune unit, Australia’s CSL Ltd, GlaxoSmithKline PLC, Novartis AG and Sanofi-Aventis SA.
It is not clear how many doses of vaccine will be available right away but the US would need 600 million doses to immunize everyone.
The panel struggled to keep a balance between getting limited supplies of vaccine to people who need it the most urgently and making sure that there was enough demand for it.
In the past, influenza vaccines have been thrown away at the end of the flu season because people lost interest in being vaccinated.
The US government has taken delivery of 20 million doses of a vaccine against the new strain, has ordered 195 million doses and should be ready to start an immunization campaign in October, said Robin Robinson of the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Data from human trials of the new vaccine, which have just begun, will not be available until late September, officials said.
A(H1N1) swine flu is now so widespread that the WHO has stopped counting individual cases. Health experts are afraid it could worsen, especially when the Northern Hemisphere’s influenza season starts in the autumn.
Fiore also released new CDC data showing that obese people do not have an especially high risk of death or complications from swine flu, as some earlier studies had suggested.
Fiore said the working group was assuming that people will need two doses of vaccine to be fully protected, but the clinical trials are also looking at this issue.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) removed former minister of foreign affairs Qin Gang (秦剛) from his post after an investigation concluded that he had conducted an affair and fathered a child while serving as ambassador to the US, the Wall Street Journal reported. Top officials were told in August that a CCP inquiry into Qin uncovered “lifestyle issues,” the newspaper reported yesterday, citing people familiar with the situation that it did not describe. That phrase usually means sexual misbehavior of some type in the parlance of Chinese officialdom. Two of the people said the affair led to the birth of a child in
GUNNED DOWN: The Canadian PM said there were credible allegations that India was connected to the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey on June 18 India yesterday dismissed allegations that its government was linked to the killing of a Sikh activist in Canada as “absurd,” expelling a senior Canadian diplomat and accusing Canada of interfering in India’s internal affairs. It came a day after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described what he called credible allegations that India was connected to the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, an advocate of Sikh independence from India who was gunned down on June 18 outside a Sikh cultural center in Surrey, British Columbia, and Canada expelled a top Indian diplomat. “Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a
LOST BATTLE: The Varroa mite, which Canberra has called the ‘most serious pest’ to face bees, would cause serious economic damage, an ecologist said Australia yesterday abandoned its fight to eradicate the destructive Varroa mite, an invasive parasite responsible for the collapse of honeybee populations across the planet. Desperate to keep Varroa out of the country, authorities have destroyed more than 14,000 infected beehives since the tiny red-brown pest was first detected north of Sydney in June last year. The government said its US$64 million eradication plan could not stop the mite from spreading, and the country’s beekeepers should now prepare to live with the incursion. “The recent spike in new detections have made it clear that the Varroa mite infestation is more widespread and has
SECURITY: Wang met with the US national security adviser in Malta over the weekend, with the US side noting the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) yesterday headed to Russia for security talks after two days of meetings with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan over the weekend in Malta. China’s top foreign policy official will be in Russia until Thursday for a round of China-Russia strategic security consultations, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a brief statement. The US and China are at odds over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. China has refrained from taking sides in the war, saying that while a country’s territory must be respected, the West needs to consider Russia’s security concerns about NATO’s