Biden Administration Mulling Vaccinating Farm Workers Over Bird Flu Fears

The United States government is closely monitoring the potential impact of the H5N1 bird flu virus on the nation’s agricultural sector and public health.

The virus, which first emerged in late 2020, has recently infected two dairy workers in Texas and Michigan, raising concerns about its potential to mutate and spread among humans.

In response to these developments, the Biden administration is reportedly “looking closely” at the possibility of vaccinating farm workers and others who may be exposed to the virus.

Dawn O’Connell of the U.S. Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response emphasized the importance of focusing efforts on preventing widespread human infections, which could have severe consequences.

Despite the recent infections, health officials have not found evidence of additional cases or human-to-human transmission. “Risk is incredibly low right now,” said Andrew Pekosz of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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However, the government remains vigilant and is taking proactive measures to mitigate potential risks.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently conducted a study of 297 retail dairy samples, all of which tested negative for viable H5N1 virus.

The agency also reported that all final egg inoculation tests associated with the retail sampling study were negative for viable virus.

While these results are encouraging, U.S. officials have acknowledged that they are transporting bulk vaccine from CSL Seqirus, which could create 4.8 million doses of vaccine matching the H5N1 strain.

European health officials are also discussing the acquisition of CSL’s prepandemic vaccine.

The U.S. is also in talks with mRNA vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna about potential pandemic vaccines, according to Reuters.

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Matthew Miller, co-director of the Canadian Pandemic Preparedness Hub at McMaster University, emphasized the importance of preventing widespread human infections. “Once we have widespread infections of humans, we’re in big trouble,” he warned.