Swine Flu Vaccine

Distribution, a life or death decision.


There has been little media interest in swine flu over the last few weeks, yet World Health Organisation figures show that it has continued to spread since it first emerged.

H1N1 is already showing some resistance to Tamiflu, the antiviral drug currently being used to treat swine flu.

In preparing for a pandemic, how should the vaccine be distributed and priority to who in a mass vaccination programme? WHO's vaccine experts recommend that countries prioritize which groups should get the vaccine first.

  • Health Care Providers on the front lines of the global outbreak?

  • the very old and very young who are most at risk?

  • pregnant women?

  • people with chronic respiratory problems or obesity?

  • young to middle-aged adults, who have been affected by the virus?

  • give it to the pigs first which are considered the source?

The decision to start vaccinating people against swine flu — which so far remains a mild virus in most people — will ultimately be a gamble, since there will be limited data on any vaccine. Until millions of people start receiving the shots, experts will not know about rare and potentially dangerous side effects.

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