September 17, 2009
President Announces Plan to Expand Fight Against Global H1N1 Pandemic
Today, President Obama announced the United States will continue to act aggressively to stop the global spread of the pandemic 2009-H1N1 influenza virus and is prepared to make 10 percent of its H1N1 vaccine supply available to other countries through the World Health Organization (WHO). In recognition that diseases know no borders and that the health of the American people is inseparable from the health of people around the world, the United States is taking this action in concert with Australia, Brazil, France, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The United States will make the H1N1 vaccine available to the WHO on a rolling basis as vaccine supplies become available, in order to assist countries that will not otherwise have direct access to the vaccine.
This week, the Food and Drug Administration officially licensed the 2009-H1N1 influenza vaccine. Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health announced that one dose of the vaccine – instead of two doses – will be effective in developing immunity in most adults, and HHS Secretary Sebelius announced the vaccine would be available in the coming weeks, earlier than originally anticipated. We remain confident that the United States will have sufficient doses of the vaccine to ensure that every American who wants a vaccine is able to receive one. We continue to recommend that early priority at home and abroad should be given to pregnant women, health care workers, individuals caring for infants less than 6 months of age, and other high-risk populations.
There is broad international recognition that the 2009-H1N1 pandemic presents a global health risk. Millions of people around the world have been affected, thousands have died and the virus continues to spread across international borders. The United States recognizes that just as this challenge transcends borders, so must our response. We invite other nations to join in this urgent global health effort. Working together, we can ensure that this vaccine limits the spread of the disease, reduces the burden on health care systems, reduces the risk of an even more virulent strain emerging and, most importantly, saves lives—in the United States and around the world.