Children and pregnant women should be a priority for a new vaccine for the novel influenza A H1N1 virus, which will be provided by the federal government, perhaps in mass vaccinations, an official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this afternoon. Clinical testing on that new vaccine should begin at Emory University by mid-August.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to the CDC recommended that the new vaccine be targeted to five major groups:
-Those who live with an infant less than 6 months old;
-Health care workers and emergency medical services personnel;
-Children ages six months to adults 24 years old;
-Adults with underlying health problems that put them at greater risk for complications from flu, such as diabetes or lung disease.
Children and young adults have been hardest hit by the new virus, which has infected a relatively small number of the elderly.
Emory is one of eight sites across the U.S. conducting clinical trials of the new vaccine, which will be tested first in adults and then in children. Emory will be looking at the safety of the vaccine; whether it needs to be given in two doses, as usually happens with a relatively unknown influenza strain; and whether it can be given with the seasonal flu shot, said Mark Mulligan, professor of medicine at Emory and director of the Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit.