Monday, July 27, 2009

H1N1 Vaccine Production

Talk in the flu pandemic world is all about vaccine, and manufacturers are rushing to production.
With the sprint to get the vaccine in the public, there is also a sprint through various safety protocols. In the world of public health, it is difficult to discuss production of a swine flu vaccine without reference to the 1976 fiasco. With that vaccine, about 1 in 100,000 people developed some sort of neurological problems and 25 people died. Safety this time around is obviously of concern. I read this morning that CDC has constructed a large net for monitoring vaccine safety, which will keep us all even busier this flu season.

I have seen rumor on the internet that the government plans to force the public to take the vaccine. There is no truth in this (at least in the US). No one will be forced to have the vaccine.

There is also a lot of discussion about why we are pushing this so hard. I’ve considered that myself. Signs still indicate that the disease is relatively mild. Risk groups have emerged, and I think it is most important to ensure that they are protected, just as I would want to protect people at risk from any preventable disease. My understanding is that in the US, the government is picking up the tab for the vaccine and vaccination supplies. I assume then that the vaccine will be free. Free vaccine means more likelihood that people will get it. So more doses are produced. Some vaccine manufacture is going to be in for whirlwind profits. I am not one to propagate conspiracy theories, but I worry that corporate greed is driving this bus (and now all the public health folks are invited to argue that point).

I’m very curious to see how many people show up for the jab. Personally, I will not be at the front of the line. While I am not overly concerned, I do want to ensure that it is safe, and unfortunately that takes time.

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