Swine flu ‘debacle’ of 1976 is recalled

The episode triggered an enduring public backlash against flu vaccination, embarrassed the federal government and cost the director of the CDC his job.

Warren D. Ward, 48, was in high school when the swine flu threat of 1976 swept the U.S. The Whittier man remembers the episode vividly because a relative died in the 1918 flu pandemic, and the 1976 illness was feared to be a direct descendant of the deadly virus.

“The government wanted everyone to get vaccinated,” Ward said. “But the epidemic never really broke out. It was a threat that never materialized.”

What did materialize were cases of a rare side effect thought to be linked to the shot. The unexpected development cut short the vaccination effort — an unprecedented national campaign — after 10 weeks.

The episode triggered an enduring public backlash against flu vaccination, embarrassed the federal government and cost the director of the U.S. Center for Disease Control, now known as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, his job.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: