Biden administration considers vaccinating farm workers amid H5N1 bird flu outbreak

Despite low risk, administration prepares for potential H5N1 pandemic.

Biden administration considers vaccinating farm workers amid H5N1 bird flu outbreak
AP Photo/Terry Chea
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The Biden administration is reportedly "looking closely" at vaccinating farm workers and others who may be exposed to the H5N1 bird flu virus, which has infected two dairy workers in Texas and Michigan since April. The virus, which originated in late 2020, has raised concerns about its potential to mutate and spread easily among humans.

Although the Food and Drug Administration announced on May 10 that all retail dairy samples and egg inoculation tests were negative for viable HPAI H5N1 virus, U.S. officials have acknowledged transporting bulk vaccine from CSL Seqirus, which could create 4.8 million doses of vaccine. European health officials are also considering acquiring CSL's pre-pandemic vaccine, the Daily Wire reports.

Reuters reports the increased risk of human exposures to the virus in poultry and dairy operations could lead to mutations enabling the virus to spread easily among people. The U.S. is currently in discussions with mRNA vaccine makers Pfizer about potential pandemic vaccines.

Dawn O'Connell of the U.S. Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response emphasized the importance of focusing efforts on preventing widespread human infections. Matthew Miller, co-director of the Canadian Pandemic Preparedness Hub at McMaster University, warned, "Once we have widespread infections of humans, we're in big trouble."

Despite the second dairy worker infection in Michigan, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Principal Deputy Director Nirav Shah stated last week there was no evidence of other cases or human-to-human transmission. Andrew Pekosz of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health added, the "risk is incredibly low right now."

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  • By David Menzies

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