H1N1 Vaccine Testing Set to Begin

August 7, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The first volunteers for the H1N1 swine flu vaccine roll up their sleeves for the shot Friday. With drug companies under pressure to get a vaccine ready, there are growing questions about its safety.The government wants nearly 160 million Americans to get the H1N1 swine flu vaccine this fall. Tests have already begun in a handful of countries to test whether the vaccine is safe and effective. The first three volunteers in this country will receive the vaccine late Friday in Seattle.

The World Health Organization answered questions about the vaccine's safety. "We should have early results during September, during the first half of September," said Marie-Paule Kierny with the World Health Organization.

Researchers say there's no reason to believe the vaccine won't be safe. It will be made in the same way and by the same companies as the seasonal flu vaccine. "We give these same types of vaccinations all the time to tens of millions of people and it has a very good safety record," said Anthony Fauci with the National Institutes of Health.

But many remember 1976, when President Ford ordered a massive vaccination program. 40 million Americans got the shot, but the vaccine killed more people than the flu.

The government admits clinical trials might not identify some rare complications.

Meanwhile, schools are getting ready for the return of students this fall. Later today government officials will announce updated guidelines for school closings in the event of a swine flu outbreak, but the decision will actually rest with local school officials.

Still undecided though, is whether schools will be turned into vaccine clinics.

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