I got an email overnight from someone in Atlanta who said she was outraged because the government is going to “protect a handful of favorites from a killer while ignoring the rest of the population.”
Wow. This great plot for a novel becomes a bit less exciting when all the facts are known.
Yes, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Friday that $1 billion will be spent to produce enough vaccine to protect the medical community, firefighters and emergency responders against the flu formerly known as “swine”.
Part of the money will go to U.S. companies already licensed for other flu vaccines to produce and stockpile protection against Influenza H1N1.
But a good portion of the funds will be used over the summer for clinical studies to better define what is needed in a vaccine for this strain of flu.
“Our goal throughout this new H1N1 outbreak has been to stay one step ahead of the virus,” Sebelius said in a statement.
In answer to the woman who wrote me, the decision to have vaccine available for the public health community, emergency responders and others whose jobs are considered “critical” was not a capricious act, but rather part of the thoroughly researched and endlessly debated National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza.
First, understand that a pandemic is a sudden outbreak of a serious infectious disease that spreads easily among and affects a large proportion of the population in a region, a continent, or the world.
Think what it would be like if we didn’t protect our physicians, nurses, medics, firefighters and law enforcement to perform their vital services amidst the fear and havoc the disease could generate.
As of Friday, 6,552 cases of H1N1 flu have been reported, and nine people have died from it, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
For those who suspect a sinister plot behind every decision, here is a link to more than you ever wanted to know about the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza.