Retail News South Africa

Subscribe to industry newsletters

Search jobs

New flu pandemic plans for U.S.

In the event of a flu pandemic in the United States new government plans detail who will be the first to get vaccinated.

The new Health and Human Services plan contrasts with traditional plans in that it proposes protecting those who work to protect people and their health first and the elderly are the last to be vaccinated.

The plan proposes creating four categories of people, homeland and national security, critical infrastructure, health and community support services and the general population.

The top tier of each category will be vaccinated first.

The new plans are for doctors, emergency workers and deployed military troops, pregnant women, babies and toddlers to be the first to receive the vaccinations against H5N1 bird flu or any other strain of pandemic influenza.

The last people to receive the vaccine will be the elderly and healthy adults.

William Raub, emergency planning chief at the Department of Health and Human Services, says children are not only highly susceptible to influenza, but are also very good at spreading it and protecting them also protects those in the population.

The new proposals regarding priority in administering the vaccine involves 700,000 deployed and critical military personnel, 6.3 million public health, hospital, outpatient, home health and long-term care workers, 2.1 million emergency medical services, police and fire-fighters, vaccine and antiviral manufacturers, key government leaders and 13.4 million pregnant women and babies 6 to 35 months old.

World health experts believe that the world is overdue for an influenza pandemic of some sort but predicting when, how bad it would be or which strain of influenza virus may be responsible, is almost impossible.

At present the H5N1 bird flu virus which has infected 331 people since 2003 and killed 203 of them, is the most likely suspect.

Although many companies are working to develop a vaccine against H5N1 the process is one which takes time and it remains unclear if vaccines formulated to match the current strain would protect well against whatever mutated version emerges to cause a pandemic.

Raub says a true vaccine against the actual pandemic virus cannot be made until the virus appears and samples become available.

However speedy the process is it will not be possible to provide 300 million doses of vaccine overnight says Raub.

Raub says once a pandemic starts, the vaccine will be released in lots and a priority scheme is needed as to who receives it first.

The plan is to be released at public meetings and on the Internet at, it is not final and will be revised after comments from experts and members of the general public.

Let's do Biz