Experts demand early bird flu jabs

Patients should be vaccinated against avian flu before a global pandemic breaks out, an international expert panel has said.

It called for the WHO and national governments to consider priming people in advance of bird flu with a preparatory H5N1 vaccination.

This would build up immune systems, and leave patients needing only a booster shot when a pandemic is imminent.

'Pre-pandemic priming has the potential to evoke a more rapid antibody response that might ameliorate the disease, cutting hospital admissions, deaths and onward transmission of the virus,' said the experts, adding that priming could be given with seasonal flu vaccines.

The Lancet Infectious Diseases Online 2008

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