Public Invited To H1N1 Vaccine Meeting

CDC Seeks Public Advice On Approach To Delivering Swine Flu Vaccine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked for public input on delivering the H1N1 vaccine to Colorado residents.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services held a public meeting Saturday to talk about how best to deliver the swine flu vaccine. About 130 people were registered to attend the meeting at the Rita Bass Trauma & EMS Education Institute, located at 190 W. 6th Ave.

Denver was one of 10 cities nationwide selected to host one of these forums.

"In selecting the 10 sites, we went for a wide range of cities, large and small. We wanted a diversity of population," said Mike Hughes, vice president of Keystone Center, which helped to facilitate Saturday's event. "I think it’s a great time for people to express their opinion."

That they did. The meeting began with a presentation by health experts about the H1N1 virus and what they expect the disease to do in the fall.

Attendees were asked whether they preferred that the government implement a "go easy" approach to mass vaccinations, a moderate approach, or a "full-throttle" approach.

Some who attended said they would prefer that the government not administer an H1N1 vaccine at all.

"I don’t think that a mass, panicked vaccination policy is the right thing," said Erika Roberg, an attendee who has not allowed her children to be vaccinated. "Once you create panic, people do things that are unreasonable."

Others said they worried that an H1N1 vaccine was merely an opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to rake in more money based on public fear. Some who attended said they were uncertain about the safety of a new vaccine that would be tested in clinical trials for only a brief period of time.

But Beverly Tafoya-Dominguez, who works in public health, said she supports an H1N1 vaccine because she has seen vaccines save lives.

"I actually saw someone die of tetanus, which was truly frightening," said Tafoya-Dominguez. "We should move forward with the vaccine campaign using a very moderate approach."

Hughes said the opinions of attendees were recorded using polling devices. The information will be compiled and brought to a meeting in Washington, D.C. to give CDC officials some final advice.

The vaccine is currently in the testing phase. It's expected to be ready for distribution this fall. Colorado is expected to get the vaccine sometime in October. 7News asked why start this process before having the vaccine?

"I think what we want to do is help the CDC get ahead of production of the vaccine, so local and state health agencies and private providers can be ready when the vaccine is delivered. They'll know how much effort the public want them to put into promoting the vaccine, "said Hughes. "Populations in different states will have a different level of interest in a real big push for vaccination or a much more go slow approach."

In addition to nine other public meetings around the country this month, there are two upcoming Web sessions, which will be open to the public. Each meeting will span two days. The first Web session is Aug. 26 through 27. The second session is scheduled for Aug. 31 through Sept. 1.

To register to participate, visit www.keystone.org/h1n1.

Hughes said registration will be open in the next few days. If you want to participate, sign up quickly.

"We'll have to cap registration as soon as we get near the 1,000 mark. That's about as many as we think the web portal will be able to handle," said Hughes.

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