Federal health officials are hoping to avoid a catastrophic case of déjà vu as they develop plans to inoculate Americans against swine flu, the Washington Post reports. A vaccine released during the 1976 flu outbreak left dozens dead and hundreds reporting serious side effects like blindness and paralysis. Now, haunted officials say they’re learning lessons from the past.
The feds overreacted and concealed the vaccine’s risks, investigators say. As Americans panicked, officials rushed production and field-testing of the vaccine, which President Ford received in front of cameras. But even after the threat dissipated, shots remained in circulation, and watchdogs now fear a repeat with the post-9/11 loosening of vaccine laws. “Disclose the risks,” advised one doctor.