Swine Flu, Round Two

Even though the spread of the virus has not stopped, media coverage of H1N1, popularly called swine flu, has ebbed somewhat since earlier this year. But as preparations for vaccinating a large proportion of the U.S. population advance, the disease has gotten some renewed attention — and people with diabetes are an intended audience.

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The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, part of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issued recommendations last week regarding who should be vaccinated against the virus in case of a major spread this fall. According to a Reuters article published last week, the recommended groups amount to about half of the United States population. These include people with diabetes as well as pregnant women, health-care workers, people who care for babies, young children, and people with asthma or heart disease.

The article notes that the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices plays a key role in controlling demand for a vaccine. In this case, the group is trying to direct the limited supply of the vaccine to those who are most vulnerable while still trying to use as much of the predicted supply (up to 160 million doses) as possible.

Given that fears of a swine flu pandemic have not panned out so far, convincing people to get vaccinated may be a difficult effort. Possible confusion between the swine flu vaccine and the regular seasonal flu vaccine — which will also be available in the fall, as it is every year — may also be a problem, as could be safety concerns about the new vaccine.

Do you think concerns about swine flu have been overblown? Or is such a cautious response appropriate on this case? Do you intend to get vaccinated this fall? Leave a comment below!

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