Tuesday, April 28, 2009

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate

From Canada.com:
To vaccinate or not to vaccinate.

That is one of a host of difficult questions that Canadian public-health officials will face if the swine-flu outbreak escalates into a full-blown pandemic.

In 1976, then U.S. president Gerald Ford ordered a national vaccination campaign in response to an outbreak of swine flu at a military base in New Jersey. In the end, only one person died from swine flu, while roughly 25 people died from a rare neurological syndrome believed to have been a side-effect of the vaccine. The program, now considered a case study in how not to handle a flu outbreak, cost roughly $500 million U.S. in today's dollars.

Working with the World Health Organization, an international network of scientists is racing to develop a vaccine for the new swine-flu strain. Canada is one of the few countries in the world that has a drug manufacturer on contract to supply the vaccine once it is developed.

But the Public Health Agency of Canada estimates it will take as long as six months to produce a vaccine, and some experts believe it could take even longer. ...more

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