By Steve Sternberg
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday that pandemic flu probably will flare up soon after schools open in the fall, before vaccine is available.
Napolitano also acknowledged that there would not be enough pandemic flu vaccine for everyone, at least in the early stages of the flu season. “There will be prioritization of vaccinations,” she told members of the USA TODAY editorial board.
The flu strain causing the pandemic, a new H1N1 virus also known as swine flu, is especially dangerous because it differs from every other known flu virus. As a result, most people are defenseless against it. That makes a vaccine the keystone of any effort to prevent illness and save lives. The first batches of the vaccine are due in mid-October.
Napolitano said this year’s flu season probably will be severe but not as severe as the 1918 pandemic, the world’s worst.