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Swine Flu Summit Focuses on Preparedness
Date:7/9/2009

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The WHO last month formally declared a pandemic, triggered by the rapid spread of the H1N1 virus across North America, Australia, South America, Europe and regions beyond.

U.S. health officials have said they are considering a swine flu immunization campaign that could involve an unprecedented 600 million doses of vaccine. Still to be worked out is finding enough health-care workers to administer all those shots, and determining ways to record side effects if the vaccine is given at the same time as the seasonal flu vaccine, officials said.

The timing of the program depends on how fast a vaccine can be produced and tested. Preliminary trial vaccines are expected within several weeks.

The 600 million doses would dwarf the roughly 115 million doses of seasonal flu vaccine and the 150 million doses of childhood vaccines distributed each year, the Associated Press reported.

Meanwhile, federal health officials continue to monitor the H1N1 virus as it still circulates in the United States -- some children are being infected at summer camps, for instance -- and 120 other countries, especially in the Southern Hemisphere where the flu season is under way. Scientists are concerned the virus could mutate as it travels around the world, becoming more virulent and posing a greater health threat.

What makes the H1N1 strain different from the typical seasonal flu is that about half of the people killed worldwide were young and previously healthy. In contrast, regular forms of the seasonal flu typically prove most lethal to the very young and the elderly.


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U.S. Human Cases of H1N1 Flu Infection
(As of July 2, 2009, 2:30 PM ET)
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