WASHINGTON (CNN) – Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Sunday that it would likely be Thanksgiving before the most vulnerable, high priority populations are completely vaccinated against the H1N1 or swine flu virus. In the meantime, Sebelius said parents and schools need to make back-up plans to deal with possible illness.
“We’re playing out a whole variety of scenarios,” Sebelius said on CNN’s State of the Union. “We’re preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.”
Sebelius told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King that the administration was “optimistic” it would have a vaccine available by around mid-October.
“But the regimen will take about five weeks,” Sebelius said, “A first shot, three weeks delay, second shot, and then about two weeks for full immunity. So we’re really need to work between now and Thanksgiving with lots of social mitigation – keeping kids home from school if they’re sick. I would urge every family have a back-up child care plan.”
“If a parent gets sick, was is the plan?,” Sebelius also said Sunday, “because we know the disease spreads quickly and we will not have fully immunized even priority populations until about Thanksgiving.”
“We’re looking at schools as great partners for possible vaccine programs beginning in the fall to get kids immunized as quickly as possible because this is a children’s flu,” the Obama aide also said.