Swine Flu Vaccine, Are You Up First or Last?

CNN reports:

“The priority groups include pregnant women; health care and emergency services personnel; children, adolescents and young adults up to age 24; household and caregiver contacts of children younger than six months; and healthy adults with certain medical conditions.

The guidelines were approved in a near-unanimous vote by the 15-member Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. One person dissented on whether to include people ages 19 to 24 among those targeted…

The targeted groups differ starkly from the recommendations for seasonal flu vaccine campaigns, which include people 65 and older in the highest-risk group.

The difference is based largely on data showing vastly higher infection rates among younger people; the rate of laboratory-confirmed cases in Americans 65 and older is just 0.06 per 100,000, compared with 2.6 per 100,000 for the group with the highest infection rates, children 5 to 11.”

Oh, and just in case you were feeling hopeful, here is this uplifting quote:

“The virus and the vaccine are in a race; the virus may win… It’s like thinking about a hurricane. You batten down the hatches. You do everything you can. But when the hurricane arrives, damage will occur. This one is going to be a doozy.”

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So what’s new with the swine flu?

Well, 2 studies (One conducted by the U.S. and one conducted by the Netherlands) involving ferrets found that the swine flu is more severe than the usual seasonal flu.  Among the findings:

The H1N1 swine flu virus went further into the ferrets’ lungs, and also penetrated the gastrointestinal tract while seasonal flu stayed in the nasal cavity.

“When they examined the transmissibility of the virus, the two groups found conflicting evidence.” The Netherlands group…”who used a strain of swine flu taken from the first person infected in the Netherlands, said ferrets passed it to each other through the air as easily as seasonal flu.”

“The U.S. researchers…said the ferrets in their study didn’t transmit the swine flu strains they used, taken from patients in California, Texas and Mexico, as efficiently as seasonal flu strains.”

For reference, here is a cute picture of a ferret.

For reference, here is a cute picture of a ferret.

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