There is currently no commercially available vaccine to protect humans against the H5N1 virus. Furthermore, a pandemic vaccine cannot be produced until a new pandemic influenza virus emerges and is identified. Using current vaccine production technology, it would take 4 to 6 months to produce a vaccine once the pandemic strain is identified.
Should a vaccine become available, Jackson County has plans in place to rapidly establish mass vaccination clinics and to distribute the vaccine through existing healthcare channels.
Studies done in laboratories suggest that some of the prescription medicines approved in the United States for human influenza viruses should work in treating avian influenza infection in humans. However, influenza viruses can become resistant to these drugs, so these medications may not always work. Additional studies are needed to demonstrate the effectiveness of these medicines.
The federal government is currently working on stockpiling medications and will distribute them to affected states as needed during a pandemic. Jackson County has plans to establish medication-dispensing clinics and coordinate the distribution of medicines to local medical providers.