Saturday, May 09, 2009

The 1976 Swine Flu Fiasco

The 1976 Swine Flu Fiasco
Shortly after new army recruit and soldiers returning form the Christmas holidays arrived at Fort Dix, New Jersey, in January 1976, an outbreak of influenza ensued.

Most of the illness remained mild with only a few hospitalized victims. One sick recruit refuse to answer sick call died from influenza related pneumonia.

Tests showed that he and three others had been infected with and H1N1 swine virus, while all the others had been infected with a variant of the H3N2 virus hat had been circulating every year since it was introduced to human population in 1968.

There had been a few reported cases of human infection by the swine flu since 1974, but the virus had grown so adapted to pigs that it no longer adjusts well enough in the human host to be transmitted from person to person.

Fearful that the H1N1 subtype of 1918 had begun to resurface within the human population, with the prospect of a similar pandemic, scientist debated the issue and considered what should be done to prevent such a disaster.

Some scientists believed this was not the same type variant of 1918, while many others feared it could be.

President Ford at that time, following recommendations coming out of the debate announced in March the federal government’s intent to immunize the entire population of the United States against the swine flu to prevent a disastrous outbreak expected in the fall of 1976, similar to the 1918 pandemic.

Congress appropriated $135 million for the vaccination program.

Ten days after the vaccinations began, three elderly individuals with the heart conditions died shortly after receiving their shots. The news media jumped on this to create fear of the vaccine.

This prompted President Ford and his family to encourage people to take the shots by televising their own vaccinations.

Over 40 million people did receive the vaccine before the program ended in December.
The 1976 Swine Flu Fiasco
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