Snags Threaten Massive Vaccination Drive

Cost, confusion with seasonal flu could mar government's efforts
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2009 10:40 AM CDT
Health officials are mobilizing to launch a massive swine flu vaccination campaign this fall that is unprecedented in its scope and in the potential for complications.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
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(Newser) – US health officials are readying an unprecedented swine flu vaccination campaign for this fall, but the initiative is already dogged by experts' doubts and a raft of unknowns, the Washington Post reports. Only a third of the expected vaccine supply will arrive by October, and officials fear confusing the public about overlapping efforts to combat regular seasonal flu. “This is an overreaction," one expert says. “There is no national security threat here. Why are we operating like this?”

Scientists are still rushing tests to determine if the vaccine is safe and effective, but the feds have already spent $2 billion on up to 195 million doses of the free vaccine and its booster. “If the outbreak fizzles, they will be susceptible to being criticized for spending billions of dollars,” says one observer. The key for officials, one researcher says, is ensuring that swine flu and seasonal flu don’t mingle: “We really don't want those ugly viruses mixing together.”