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.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread