US Flu Vaccine Program to Be Expanded

This year's vaccination effort targeting the world’s first pandemic flu is an unprecedented one.

And now, organizers of Louisville’s two-day swine flu clinic earlier this month near Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium are gleaning lessons to share with the nation and bolster their own preparations for disaster — even as H1N1 appears to be slowing locally and nationally.

Public health and engineering researchers at the University of Louisville said they plan to present data about the clinics nationally and publish in academic journals to guide other communities planning events similar to what might be the world’s largest clinic ever.

Clinic organizers also plan to contact Guinness World Records to see if they broke a single-day record when they gave 12,613 flu vaccinations on the first day of the Nov. 11-12 event, Louisville Courier-Journal reports.

It was also reported, after a lethal bird flu virus emerged in Asia, U.S. officials launched an intense effort to build new defenses against a pandemic, including replacing an antiquated vaccine system, which depends on millions of chicken eggs.

But six years later, as Americans from Washington to California line up to get inoculated against the swine flu, the slow progress toward developing better ways to make a vaccine has become glaringly obvious.

This lag and the shortage of H1N1 vaccine have focused attention on the status of government efforts to develop state-of-the-art techniques to make flu and other vaccines, including those needed to protect against bioterrorism, and the nation's dependence on a process that is notoriously slow and unreliable, The Washington Post reports.

Once again, the state has expanded its swine flu vaccination program, this time to include healthy school-age children and young adults.

In a news release, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported that based on information on vaccine supply and feedback from healthcare providers, it is returning to the original target groups for vaccine listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We applaud the work of providers across the state in working to reach those individuals with underlying health conditions, which make them more at-risk for influenza complications," State Health Officer Seth Foldy said in the news release. "We're pleased that we are able to expand the group even further today as we know that vaccine is one of the most successful tools in protecting the health of people in our state," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

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