Precedents

Swine Flu? Been There, Done That

When searching for solutions in the swine flu scare, the government may need only look to the past. The 1976 swine flu “debacle,” in which 200 cases of swine flu were diagnosed in the United States–resulting in only one death–prompted the government to wage a massive vaccination campaign. More than 40 million Americans received the swine flu vaccine after the warning, but 500 people are thought to have contracted Guillain-Barre syndrome from it, and 25 died. The episode triggered a deep backlash against flu vaccination and embarrassed the federal government.