Earlier this month, President Barack Obama urged Americans to get vaccinated against the H1N1 “Swine Flu” virus when the new vaccine becomes available in October. The president also said he and his wife “will stand in line like everybody else” so high risk groups—young people, health workers, pregnant women and those with underlying health problems—would have immediate access.

This is an admirable gesture, but as a public health measure it does more harm than good. It fails to convey the urgency required for a successful mass vaccination. Now is the time for Mr. Obama to send a clear message about why his administration has spent billions to ensure that as many Americans as possible are protected against this virus. There’s little reason to worry that strong words will incite a public panic. On the contrary, a bigger concern is that many Americans are skeptical that the risks of H1N1 are serious, and that getting vaccinated is worth the effort.

But the case for getting vaccinated is straightforward: Swine Flu may not be more lethal than ordinary seasonal flu, but it is unusually virulent and therefore likely to be more widespread. It is undoubtedly dangerous and it has already killed at least 3,200 people world-wide. It is likely to hit hard starting this fall. In addition to the human toll, a massive outbreak would also affect families, schools, governments and businesses that would find their normal routines disrupted as they deal with containing an outbreak. Hospitals, particularly those in underserved areas, could be overwhelmed by a surge in demand for emergency services. A small number of people may have adverse reactions to vaccinations, but the benefits of not having a mass outbreak outweigh the risks.

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•  Australia begins swine flu vaccinations (Link)

•  Ontario: Two Hamilton schools dealing with likely H1N1 cases (Link)
•  Seasonal vaccine may increase risk of contracting H1N1? (Link)

•  6 more deaths confirmed (Link)

•  Excreted Tamiflu found in rivers  (Link)

New Zealand
•  18th H1N1 ‘confirmed’ death in Auckland (Link)

Saudi Arabia
•  Saudi Arabia confirms 3 more deaths (Link and link)

•  Health officials test Nyakasura students (Link)

United States
•  CA: Santa Clara county officials ‘local state of emergency’ (Link)
•  CA: Carmel school absences higher than normal (Link)
•  GA: Health officials in Whitfield county say a seven year old girl died this morning from the Swine Flu (Link)
•  MD: Baltimore City girl, 14, who was hospitalized with swine flu dies, aunt says (Link)
•  MI: H1N1 Case Confirmed In Grand Traverse Co.  (Link)
•  NY:  Dennis Hopper Hospitalized With Flu-Like Symptoms  (Link)
•  OH: Classes Go On In District Hit Hard By Flu (Link)
•  PA: Kids 5-9 get Pa.’s first swine flu vaccine (Link)
•  PA: Midstate must wait to receive swine flu vaccines (Link)
•  TX: Austin clinics swamped with flu patients (Link)
•  TX: N. Texas school closes after kids come down with flu-like illness (Link)
•  TX: Corpus Christi Girl Dies of Swine Flu (Link)
•  TX: Swine flu kills Richardson teen, may be near its peak(Link)
•  TX: Would wider use of antiviral save lives? (Link)
•  TX: Dial 2-1-1 for Flu Advice  (Link)
•  TX: Initial H1N1 Flu Vaccine Supply to Trickle In (Link)
•  TX: Swine flu shots delayed until end of October (Link)
•  VT: U Vermont Student Tests Positive For H1N1 (Link)

•  16th death confirmed (Link)