The Swine Flu Program:

An Unprecedented Venture in Preventive Medicine

HRD-77-115: Published: Jun 27, 1977. Publicly Released: Jun 27, 1977.

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The swine flu program was the Government's first attempt at immunizing the entire U.S. population.

The Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) lost its gamble in this episode of preventive medicine, but much can be learned from the program that should be useful in planning future immunization programs and related public health efforts. Legal liability continues to be a problem in immunization programs. All vaccine released for use utimately met Food and Drug Administration potency and safety standards. Potential protection provided by the vaccine is difficult to estimate. Not enough vaccine was produced or produced on time to immunize everyone in the United States had there been a swine flu outbreak. State readiness and implementation was never fully tested. Costs may far exceed the $135 million appropriated.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: HEW should establish key points in the program process for formal program reevaluation; improve informed consent procedures; improve potency testing; secure alternate procurement if manufacturers lag behind schedules; and consider all problems that arose in planning and implementing the program. Congress should establish a national liability policy before another mass immunization is needed.


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