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Executive Summary

CONNAUGHT, AND P-D, WYETH TAIWAN INFLUENZA A VACCINE will be available in November, HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Robert Windom, MD, said at an Oct. 27 press conference on adult immunization. Windom told the conference, held by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, that because an influenza A H1N1 virus has spread from the Far East, the government asked the pharmaceutical industry to develop and make available "a monovalent vaccine just for that one virus, which will be probably available on the market here some time in November." The vaccine is recommended for high-risk adults aged 35 and under. NFID President Richard Duma, MD, explained that people aged 30-35 or younger "have never been exposed to the highly virulent viruses that circulated in the 1950s and 60s" and consequently "are at a particular risk to this so-called Taiwanese A flu virus." Duma noted that the Taiwan virus strain and "the regular mix of influenza A and B viruses" will pose "a particularly difficult problem" this year. Duma also urged physicians to establish aggressive vaccination plans that include administration of amantadine (DuPont's Symmetrel) for high-risk individuals. NFID held the press conference to coincide with National Adult Immunization Awareness Week, Oct. 26-Nov. 1. The foundation advises physicians and other health care providers "to devise influenza protection plans for hospitals, nursing homes, and other areas where high-risk individuals live," Duma said. "These plans should include use of amantadine to control influenza A outbreaks and as an adjunct to late immunization of such high-risk individuals." Duma also contended that nationwide "mechanisms to fund vaccination delivery" must be developed. "Currently only the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine is reimbursible under Medicare," the NFID president noted. Although "some insurance companies and some HMOs [health maintenance organizations] are beginning to pay for some vaccines, the national policy appears to be operating in the opposite direction."

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