“Highly likely” that large scale operations will be implemented in US and UK
Friday, August 7, 2009
Schools in both the US and the UK are set to serve as mass vaccination sites in the Autumn as government officials on both sides of the Atlantic consider plans that could see a push to inoculate every child in both countries against swine flu.
In the US, Federal officials representing Health and Human Services, the Department of Education and the Department of Homeland Security have briefed twelve heads of education associations, unions and child care providers on plans to implement mass vaccination in schools.
New York State United Teachers president Dick Iannuzzi, who was present at the briefing, told USA Today  that it is “highly likely” that schools will be used for student vaccinations.
“That would be the optimum place to have that happen,” he said, noting that there was “consensus in the room” about the wisdom of using schools as vaccination sites.
Federal officials put “a much stronger emphasis — stronger than I’ve heard in years” — on encouraging school districts and local health departments to open schools as immunization centers, said Amy Garcia, executive director of the National Association of School Nurses.
Meanwhile, government ministers in the UK are considering plans to place vaccination posts in every school  in the country in what would amount to the biggest mass immunisation in 45 years.
All 8.5 million pupils aged five to 16, could be given the injections at the UK’s 33,700 schools, the largest vaccination programme since the 1964 operation against smallpox.
The Department of Health has stated that no decision has yet been made on the programme and that parents would need to give permission for their child to be vaccinated.
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Calls for increased vaccination have been spurred by the ongoing H1N1 outbreak, which has also seen new regulations put in place to provide pharmaceutical companies with blanket immunity from lawsuits.
“Vaccine makers and federal officials will be immune from lawsuits that result from any new swine flu vaccine, under a document signed by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius,” reported the Associated Press  last month.
Although no formal announcement has yet been made, it has been suggested by health authorities in the US and the UK that the upcoming mass public vaccination program against H1N1 will be mandatory .
As reported by CNS News  last month, a health-care reform bill approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee called The Affordable Health Choices Act, will fund the creation of state “intervention” teams that will carry out home visits in order to check that both children and adults have been vaccinated and also provide “provision of immunizations”.