With H1N1 swine flu lingering in the northern hemisphere well beyond our normal flu season, and with public health experts wondering what will happen when flu season proper comes around again, you may be wondering how the vaccine-production efforts are going. Will we all get vaccinated? And if so, when? How effective will the vaccine be? Who needs a vaccine the most?
Five companies are at work producing the H1N1 vaccine right now. Testing is starting this month--and by month's end, an advisory committee will meet to decide who in the U.S. is likely to be first in line for a shot. Kids are likely to be a high priority--vaccinating them is likely to reduce the spread of infection.
But it takes a while get the results of these tests. "If we wait, we can't do vaccination until November," says Dr. John Treanor, chief of infectious diseases at the University of Rochester, N.Y., in the WebMD article. "If the pandemic flu follows the seasonal-flu pattern with the bulk of activity in January through March, fine. But if we see this second wave coming in September, we might be faced with the decision to do vaccinations without clinical data."
Treanor notes that we've had a lot of experiences with H1N1 viruses of various types, as well as vaccines against these flu types. (One of the regular, seasonal flus circulating at the moment is an H1N1 virus.)