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U.S. Government Launches Most Ambitious Vaccination Campaign in U.S. History

Doctors, nurses and other health-care workers in Indiana and Tennessee will receive the first doses of swine flu vaccine Monday as the federal government launches the most ambitious vaccination campaign in U.S. history.

Health-care providers and emergency workers at the Wishard Health Services and other hospitals in Indianapolis and at the Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center in Memphis will receive the Flu Mist nasal spray vaccine at events attended by local, state and federal health officials.

The vaccinations mark the beginning of a nationwide campaign to inoculate at least half the U.S. population -- and perhaps the entire country -- against the new H1N1 virus that has caused the first influenza pandemic in 41 years.

The federal government has spent $2 billion to purchase about 250 million doses of vaccine and has pledged to buy enough to immunize every American if there is enough demand.

Public opinion surveys, however, indicate that Americans are undecided about the vaccine. A nationally representative survey of more than 1,000 adults released Friday by the Harvard School of Public Health, for example, found that only 40 percent were sure they would get the vaccine and only about half were sure they would get it for their children.

Most people who get the virus suffer mild illness. But because most people have no immunity against the virus, many more people than usual are expected to become infected, sick or hospitalized or possibly die than during a typical flu season. Children, young adults and pregnant women are especially at risk.

Being given top priority for the vaccine are those caring for babies younger than 6 months, health-care workers, pregnant women, adults with health problems such as obesity, asthma and diabetes and everyone 6 months to 24 years old.

States began ordering vaccine last week, and about 7 million doses are expected to be available by the end of this week. About 40 million doses of nasal spray and injectable vaccine will be available by the middle of the month, with another 10 million to 20 million to become available every week after that.

Reference Sources: 122
October 5, 2009


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