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New Swine Flu Strain Found in Brazil: Report
Date:6/17/2009

Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday that she was urging school superintendents around the country to prepare for that possibility, the Associated Press reported.

"If you think about vaccinating kids, schools are the logical place," Sebelius told the news service.

Schools do sometimes work in tandem with local health officials for special flu vaccination clinics, but it's not common.

Sebelius said she'd soon call the nation's governors to be sure "these months between now and the fall aren't used as vacation months," but to prepare for potential risks posed by the H1N1 virus, the AP said. "We can always sort of back off" if the new flu fades away, she said, "but we can't wait till October hits and say, 'Oh my heavens, what are we going to do?' "

Last week, European drug maker Novartis AG announced that it had successfully produced the first batch of H1N1 swine flu vaccine, weeks earlier than had been expected. The shortened production schedule was made possible because the vaccine was produced in cells, rather than the egg-based method typically used for vaccines, the company said.

According to the AP, Novartis said it was using this first batch for evaluation and testing, prior to its use in people, and it was also being considered for use in clinical trials. Millions of doses of the vaccine might be produced weekly, the company said. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had already placed a $289 million order for swine flu vaccine with Novartis in May, the AP said.

The WHO said Monday that 76 countries have now reported 35,928 cases of H1N1 swine flue infection, including 163 deaths. The vast majority of those deaths -- 108 -- have occurred in Mexico, the source of the outbreak. The United States has reported 45 deaths, according to the agency.

According to WHO statistics, the last pandemic -- the Hong Kong flu of 1968 -- killed about 1 milli
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