H1N1 could be important to future vaccination laws, expert says

A legal expert says the way that the H1N1 flu pandemic unfolded could be an important reference for how future laws can make vaccines more readily available at a time of need but can also hinder efforts to immunize the public.

CIDRAP News reports that Wendy E. Parmet, a professor of law at Northeastern University in Boston, wrote in the the New England Journal of Medicine this month that promoting and producing a vaccine requires "a delicate balance" because the public's fears about immunization must also be acknowledged.

Parmet wrote that people are not sure to be willing to be vaccinated just because laws - such as the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act and the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act -- have been put in place to compensate patients when vaccination production is streamlined to take on a pandemic.

During the H1N1 pandemic, Parmet wrote, some critics said that the government was trying to aide vaccine companies with the quick release of a vaccine while creating public fear about the flu strain.

"The more difficult task is to use those laws with a light enough touch so that they do not undermine the population's willingness to bare their arms," she wrote, according to CIDRAP News.