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Early H1N1 Vaccination Saves Lives, Cuts Costs: Study
Date:10/5/2009

Projects that inoculating 40% of population in October, November would blunt pandemic,,,,

MONDAY, Oct. 5 (HealthDay News) -- To minimize deaths from the H1N1 pandemic swine flu, vaccination should start as soon as possible, a new U.S. study suggests.

"Earlier -- October versus November -- vaccination saves more lives and costs less," said the study's lead researcher, Dr. Nayer Khazeni, from the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Stanford University Medical Center.

"We find that vaccinating 40 percent of the population in October would decrease viral transmission and shorten the pandemic," she said.

Distribution of an injectable H1N1 vaccine started on a small scale this week, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although most cases of the H1N1 flu are mild or moderate, close to 1,000 flu-related deaths occurred from August to September, and the flu season is just getting under way.

For the study, which is in the Oct. 6 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, Khazeni's team constructed a computer model of a hypothetical city like New York, which has 8.3 million residents. They found that vaccinating 40 percent of the people in October or 35 percent in November saves lives, cuts medical costs and shortens the pandemic, compared with later vaccination.

Vaccinating just 40 percent of the population in October would save 2,051 lives and $469 million. Vaccinating that number in November, would prevent 1,468 people from dying and save $302 million, compared with no vaccinations, Khazeni's group projects.

The H1N1 vaccine has not shown any severe side effects, but the researchers used a conservative model with side effects similar to those in the 1976 swine flu vaccination campaign as well as a more severe scenario, Khazeni said.

"In both those scenarios, vaccination would still save more lives than cause side-effect r
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