Governments scramble to get vax campaigns underway

Bracing for an expected 'second wave' of swine flu cases once schools reopen in the fall, British officials are hammering out plans for a nationwide vaccination campaign. The UK has been among the most aggressive in the world in its determination to fight the new flu--inking contracts for enough vaccine to cover the entire population--and health ministers are finalizing an effort to prioritize who should be at the front of the queue.

In the U.S., meanwhile, federal officials are still hammering out its approach to dealing with an expected explosion of new flu cases in the fall. Government officials are advising most schools to remain open unless so many students and teachers are sick that it becomes difficult to function.

The University of Michigan's Arnold Monto, an advisor to the CDC, estimates that upwards of 100 million Americans will catch swine flu, leaving anywhere from 30,000 to 90,000 people dead. An estimated 36,000 people die each year from seasonal flu.

"Vaccine is a huge component of the public health response to influenza," says Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is sponsoring clinical trials for a new vaccine. The U.S. government has ordered 195 million doses of vaccine so far. While the World Health Organization says it's pleased by the rapid speed of vaccine development, it has been concerned by the low yield researchers are getting from the virus samples they were provided. Optimally, all manufacturers should be able to produce 94 million doses a week, once production is fully underway. The low yield, though, could cut that figure in half.

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