Tag: Public Health

En la convención republicana de Trump se escuchó poco y nada sobre atención de salud

Ni una palabra sobre el Obamacare o el aborto.

En la Convención Nacional Republicana en Milwaukee esta semana, donde los delegados nominaron oficialmente a Donald Trump como candidato presidencial del partido para 2024, los oradores principales le dieron poco lugar a los temas de atención médica.

Este silencio es sorprendente, dado que la atención médica constituye la mayor parte del presupuesto federal, casi $2 mil millones, así como el 17% de la producción económica del país.

También muestra un contraste marcado con las prioridades del Partido Republicano cuando nominó a Trump por primera vez.

En 2016, la última vez que los republicanos se reunieron en masa para una convención presidencial, derogar la Ley de Cuidado de Salud a Bajo Precio (ACA) fue un tema favorito. También anular Roe vs. Wade y sus protecciones constitucionales para el aborto.

El cambio de tono refleja las sensibilidades políticas de Trump. En 2017, el intento fallido del ex presidente de derogar Obamacare contribuyó a una aplastante derrota del partido en las elecciones congresionales de medio término de 2018, y la ley ahora tiene un amplio apoyo.

El aborto también se ha convertido en un tema peligroso para los republicanos desde que Roe fuera anulado en 2022, con la mayoría de los estadounidenses oponiéndose a una prohibición nacional.

En una de las pocas piezas de política de salud en la plataforma del Partido Republicano para 2024, el ex presidente promete no recortar el Seguro Social ni Medicare, el programa de salud para estadounidenses mayores y que viven con discapacitados, ni cambiar la edad federal para jubilarse.

En su discurso de aceptación el jueves 18, Trump prometió proteger Medicare y encontrar curas para el Alzheimer y el cáncer. Pero no delineó ninguna propuesta de atención médica para un segundo mandato. “Los demócratas van a destruir el Seguro Social y Medicare”, dijo.

La atención médica no es un tema ganador para los republicanos, dijo Charles Coughlin, CEO de una firma de asuntos públicos de Phoenix que fue un órgano político republicano durante mucho tiempo antes de convertirse en independiente en 2017.

Los oradores en la convención se han centrado en cambios en la inflación, el crimen y la inmigración. “Tienen los datos de encuestas probados y verdaderos que muestran que, para ellos, esos son temas ganadores, y ahí es donde quieren mantener el foco narrativo”, dijo.

La inmigración se ha mezclado con algunos problemas de salud, incluida la crisis de opioides nacional y la cobertura de seguro público.

Algunos republicanos, incluida la representante por Georgia Marjorie Taylor Greene, quien se dirigió a la convención el 15 de julio, han afirmado que un aumento en las personas que cruzan la frontera sur ha causado más sobredosis de drogas y más muertes.

Sin embargo, la mayor parte del fentanilo incautado en la frontera con México entra por puertos de entrada legales, según el Instituto Cato, un grupo de expertos libertarios, y la mayoría de las personas sentenciadas en el país por tráfico de fentanilo son ciudadanos estadounidenses, según la Comisión de Sentencias de Estados Unidos.

Hablando el 17 de julio, la representante por Texas, Monica De La Cruz, afirmó que las políticas demócratas permiten que las personas que ingresan al país sin autorización reciban beneficios gubernamentales, aunque en gran medida no son elegibles para programas de salud federales.

De La Cruz también dijo que la administración Biden había recortado Medicare Advantage para los adultos mayores. Si bien la administración Biden este año recortó modestamente el gasto en planes privados, el gobierno federal aún gasta más dinero por beneficiario en Medicare Advantage que en los del programa tradicional de Medicare.

La escasez de oradores de la convención enfocados en la atención médica refleja la nueva plataforma del Partido Republicano, un documento que se ajusta estrechamente tanto al contenido como al tono de las opiniones de Trump.

Junto con su promesa de proteger Medicare, el documento de 28 páginas promete que los republicanos expandirán las opciones de atención médica para veteranos, así como el acceso a “nuevas opciones asequibles de atención médica y medicamentos recetados” de manera más amplia, sin dar más detalles.

Sobre el aborto, el partido eliminó de la plataforma su llamado de décadas a límites federales, incluyendo en cambio un lenguaje que sugiere que la Enmienda 14ª prohíbe el aborto. La plataforma también dice que el partido apoya elecciones a nivel estatal sobre la política de aborto y se opone al “Aborto tardío”.

Solo alrededor del 1% de los abortos en el país ocurren después de las 21 semanas de embarazo, según KFF, una organización sin fines de lucro de información sobre salud que incluye a KFF Health News.

En contraste, la plataforma de 2016 —un documento de 66 páginas— pedía convertir la financiación federal abierta de Medicaid en subvenciones en bloque e introducir un “modelo de apoyo premium” para Medicare para limitar el gasto. También pedía limitar los pagos de demandas por negligencia médica y combatir el abuso de drogas.

La palabra “aborto” aparece 32 veces en la plataforma de 2016, en comparación con una sola vez en el documento de 2024.

“El Partido Republicano está huyendo a toda velocidad de ese tema”, dijo Coughlin.

Durante la semana de la convención, apareció en internet el video de una llamada entre el candidato presidencial independiente Robert F. Kennedy Jr. y Trump. En el video, se escucha a Trump compartiendo afirmaciones refutadas sobre las vacunas infantiles, diciendo falsamente que las inyecciones pueden hacer que un bebé “cambie radicalmente” y descartando sus beneficios para la salud.

Como candidato, Kennedy ha hecho repetidamente afirmaciones falsas sobre la seguridad y eficacia de las vacunas. Trump le ha seguido la corriente durante mucho tiempo a los escépticos de las vacunas. Pero como presidente, en 2020, ordenó la creación del programa “Operación Warp Speed” que ayudó a impulsar el desarrollo de vacunas contra covid-19.

Desde el inicio de la pandemia, sin embargo, el escepticismo sobre las vacunas ha explotado en el Partido Republicano. Solo el 36% dicen tener confianza en que las vacunas contra covid son seguras, y el 44% de los republicanos e independientes inclinados hacia los republicanos dicen que los padres deberían poder decidir no vacunar a sus hijos contra el sarampión, las paperas y la rubéola “incluso si eso puede crear riesgos de salud para otros niños y adultos”, según encuestas de KFF.

At Trump’s GOP Convention, There’s Little To Be Heard on Health Care

No talk of Obamacare. Or abortion.

At the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee this week, where delegates officially nominated Donald Trump as the party’s 2024 presidential candidate, health care issues received little attention from prime-time speakers.

The silence is surprising, given health care makes up the largest chunk of the federal budget, nearly $2 trillion, as well as 17% of U.S. economic output.

It also stands in stark contrast to the GOP’s priorities when it first nominated Trump.

In 2016, the last time Republicans gathered en masse for a presidential convention, repealing the Affordable Care Act was a favorite topic. So was overturning Roe v. Wade and its constitutional protections for abortion.

The change in tone reflects Trump’s political sensitivities. The failed attempt under the former president to repeal Obamacare in 2017 contributed to a crushing GOP defeat in the 2018 congressional elections, and the law now enjoys broad support. Abortion, too, has become a treacherous topic for Republicans since Roe was overturned in 2022, with most Americans opposed to a national ban.

In one of the only pieces of health policy in the GOP’s 2024 platform, the former president vows not to cut Social Security or Medicare, the health program for older and disabled Americans, or change the federal retirement age.

In his speech accepting the nomination Thursday night, Trump promised to protect Medicare and find cures for Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. But he did not outline any health care proposals for a second term. “Democrats are going to destroy Social Security and Medicare,” he said.

Health care isn’t a winning subject for Republicans, said Charles Coughlin, CEO of a Phoenix public affairs firm who was a longtime GOP political operative before he became an independent in 2017.

Speakers at the convention have instead focused on inflation, crime, and immigration. “They have the tried-and-true polling data to show those are winning issues for them, and that’s where they want to keep the narrative focused,” he said.

Immigration has bled into a few health issues, including the U.S. opioid crisis and public insurance coverage. Some Republicans — including Georgia U.S. House Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who addressed the convention on July 15 — have claimed an increase in people crossing the southern border has caused a surge of drug overdoses and deaths.

However, most fentanyl seized at the border with Mexico enters through legal ports of entry, according to the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, and most people sentenced in the U.S. for fentanyl trafficking are American citizens, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Speaking on July 17, U.S. House Rep. Monica De La Cruz of Texas claimed Democratic policies allow people who come into the country without authorization to receive government benefits, even though they are largely not eligible for federal health programs.

De La Cruz also said the Biden administration had cut Medicare Advantage for seniors. While the Biden administration this year modestly cut spending on the private plans, the federal government still spends more money per beneficiary on Medicare Advantage than for those in the traditional Medicare program.

The paucity of convention speakers focused on health care reflects the new GOP platform, a document hewing closely to both the substance and tone of Trump’s views. Along with its promise to protect Medicare, the 28-page document vows that Republicans will expand veterans’ health care choices, as well as access to “new Affordable Healthcare and prescription drug options” more broadly, without elaboration.

On abortion, the party stripped from the platform its decades-old call for federal limits, including instead language suggesting the 14th Amendment prohibits abortion. The platform also says the party supports state-level elections on abortion policy and opposes “Late Term Abortion.” Only about 1% of abortions in the U.S. occur after 21 weeks of pregnancy, according to KFF, a health information nonprofit that includes KFF Health News.

In contrast, the 2016 platform — a 66-page document — also called for shifting open-ended federal Medicaid funding into block grants and introducing a Medicare “premium-support model” to cap spending. It also called for limiting payouts from medical malpractice lawsuits and combating drug abuse.

The word “abortion” appears 32 times in the 2016 platform, compared with once in the 2024 document.

“The GOP is in a headlong sprint away from that issue,” Coughlin said.

During the week of the convention, video of a call between independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Trump appeared online. In the video, Trump is heard sharing disproven claims about childhood vaccines, saying falsely that the shots can cause a baby to “change radically” and dismissing their health benefits.

As a candidate, Kennedy has repeatedly made false claims about the safety and efficacy of vaccines. Trump has long entertained vaccine skeptics. (Before Trump took the oath of office in 2017, Kennedy told reporters Trump had invited him to chair a presidential commission on vaccines, though the commission never materialized.) But as president, Trump ordered the creation of the “Operation Warp Speed” program in 2020 that helped drive development of covid-19 vaccines.

Since the start of the pandemic, however, vaccine skepticism has blossomed in the Republican Party. Just 36% of Republicans say they’re confident covid vaccines are safe, and 44% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say parents should be able to decide not to vaccinate their children against measles, mumps, and rubella “even if that may create health risks for other children and adults,” according to KFF polling.

KFF Health News’ ‘What the Health?’: At GOP Convention, Health Policy Is Mostly MIA

The Host

The Republican National Convention highlighted a number of policy issues this week, but health care was not among them. That was not much of a surprise, as it is not a top priority for former President Donald Trump or most GOP voters. The nomination of Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio adds an outspoken abortion opponent to the Republican ticket, though he brings no particular background or expertise in health care.

Meanwhile, abortion opponents are busy trying to block state ballot questions from reaching voters in November. Legal battles over potential proposals continue in several states, including Florida, Arkansas, and Arizona.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KFF Health News, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet, and Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins schools of public health and nursing and Politico Magazine.

Among the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio has cast few votes on health policy since joining Congress last year. He has taken a doctrinaire approach to abortion restrictions, though, including expressing support for prohibiting abortion-related interstate travel and invoking the Comstock Act to block use of the mail for abortion medications. He also speaks openly about his mother’s struggles with addiction, framing it as a health rather than criminal issue in a way that resonates with many Americans.
  • Although Republicans have largely abandoned calls to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, it would be easy for former President Donald Trump to undermine the program in a second term; expanded subsidies for coverage are due to expire next year, and there’s always the option to cut spending on marketing the program, as Trump did during his first term.
  • Trump’s recent comments to Robert F. Kennedy Jr. about childhood vaccinations echoed tropes linked to the anti-vaccination movement — particularly the false claim that while one vaccine may be safe, it is perhaps dangerous to receive several at once. The federal vaccination schedule has been rigorously evaluated and found to be safe and effective.
  • Covid is surging once again, with President Joe Biden among those testing positive this week. The virus is proving a year-round concern and has peaked regularly in summertime; covid spreads best indoors, and lately millions of Americans have taken refuge inside from extremely high temperatures. Meanwhile, the virology community is concerned that the nation isn’t testing enough animals or humans to understand the risk posed by bird flu.

Also this week, Rovner interviews KFF Health News’ Renuka Rayasam, who wrote the June installment of KFF Health News-NPR’s “Bill of the Month,” about a patient who walked into what he thought was an urgent care center and walked out with an emergency room bill. If you have an exorbitant or baffling medical bill, you can send it to us here.

Plus, for “extra credit,” the panelists suggest health policy stories they read this week that they think you should read, too: 

Julie Rovner: Time magazine’s “‘We’re Living in a Nightmare:’ Inside the Health Crisis of a Texas Bitcoin Town,” by Andrew R Chow.

Joanne Kenen: The Washington Post’s “A Mom Struggles To Feed Her Kids After GOP States Reject Federal Funds,” by Annie Gowen.

Alice Miranda Ollstein: ProPublica’s “Texas Sends Millions to Crisis Pregnancy Centers. It’s Meant To Help Needy Families, but No One Knows if It Works,” by Cassandra Jaramillo, Jeremy Kohler, and Sophie Chou, ProPublica, and Jessica Kegu, CBS News.

Sarah Karlin-Smith: The New York Times’ “Promised Cures, Tainted Cells: How Cord Blood Banks Mislead Patients,” by Sarah Kliff and Azeen Ghorayshi.

Also mentioned on this week’s podcast:

The Wall Street Journal’s “Mail-Order Drugs Were Supposed To Keep Costs Down. It’s Doing the Opposite,” by Jared S. Hopkins.


To hear all our podcasts, click here.

And subscribe to KFF Health News’ “What the Health?” on SpotifyApple PodcastsPocket Casts, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Montana’s Plan To Curb Opioid Overdoses Includes Vending Machines

Before she stopped using drugs for good, Cierra Coon estimates that she overdosed eight times in a span of two weeks in the fall of 2022. One of those times, the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone helped save her life.

She was riding in a car on the back roads of the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana when she lost consciousness. Someone in the car grabbed a small bottle of naloxone, sprayed it up her nose, and performed CPR until she came to. Coon said having quick access to the overdose reversal agent, also known by the brand name Narcan, was incredibly lucky.

“The times I wasn’t administered naloxone, it’s a miracle that I made it out,” Coon said. “People brought me back by shocking me with cold water and doing CPR. But that’s not a for-sure ‘I’m going to bring you back to life,’” Coon said.

Nearly two years later, Coon is a recovery coach for a local program, Never Alone Recovery Support Services, and earning a degree as an addiction counselor from Salish Kootenai College. She keeps doses of naloxone in her car in case she needs to help other people.

But, she said, she worries about the drug’s lack of accessibility, particularly in rural areas like her own. The state and tribal health departments’ distribution pipeline has been inconsistent, and the $50 price tag for a two-dose package of naloxone at the nearest Walmart puts it out of reach for many people.

“How are we supposed to afford this drug that’s ultimately to save the lives of ourselves and those around us?” she said.

Montana health officials are considering a new strategy to make naloxone more accessible. Drawing on a pool of behavioral health funds set aside by lawmakers in 2023, health officials within Gov. Greg Gianforte’s administration have proposed installing two dozen naloxone and fentanyl testing strip vending machines around the state at behavioral health drop-in centers and service locations for homeless people.

The $400,000 plan to build, stock, and maintain 24 vending machines for a year has not yet been approved by the governor, a Republican running for a second term, who ultimately decides how the funds allocated to the Behavioral Health System for Future Generations Commission are spent.

Details from the state’s Department of Public Health and Human Services about where the machines would be located and how they would be operated remain scarce.

The opioid-related death rate has tripled in Montana in recent years, from 3.6 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2017 to 11.3 per 100,000 residents in 2023. The death rate is higher among Native Americans: Native people in Montana died of opioid overdoses at a rate of 33 deaths per 100,000 people in 2023 — more than three times the rate for white people.

Naloxone has emerged as an important tool to combat opioid overdoses. When administered quickly, it attaches to receptors in the brain targeted by opioids, blocking the drugs’ effects.

Across the U.S., vending machines that distribute naloxone and other health supplies free of charge are becoming front-line features of the battle against opioid overdoses. Different versions of the model are being tried in at least 33 states.

In a 2023 report, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing described the use of vending machines to distribute naloxone and other “harm reduction” supplies — first-aid kits, pregnancy tests, sterile syringes, and more — as a public health tool that became more widespread during the social distancing era of the covid-19 pandemic. But the popularity of the model has continued to grow since, especially in places with hard-to-reach populations.

“They provide services to [people who use drugs] with far fewer barriers than fixed-site programs and even mobile outreach,” the report stated. Harm-reduction vending machines, it continued, “may also provide greater privacy and anonymity.”

An exterior photograph o f the Law and Justice Center in Helena, Montana.
The Law and Justice Center in Helena, Montana, hosts one of Lewis and Clark County’s three Narcan vending machines.(Mara Silvers/Montana Free Press)

The proposal from the state health department would be the first instance in Montana of vending machines being funded directly by the state, as opposed to the few now funded through public grants or private philanthropy.

Jami Hansen, prevention bureau chief for the state health department’s Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Division, spoke about the proposal during a May meeting of the state behavioral health commission. She framed vending machines as a targeted way to fill gaps in a sparsely populated state that doesn’t offer consistent access to addiction treatment and naloxone.

“Having something available that they could utilize themselves would be very, very beneficial,” Hansen said.

Some local public health groups in Montana — including those in Missoula, Helena, Kalispell, and Big Horn County — have already begun using vending machines to distribute free naloxone, drug testing strips, and other health supplies. In Helena, three machines purchased by Lewis and Clark County have been distributing free Narcan nasal spray and safe drug disposal pouches — used to dissolve prescription and recreational pills — for more than a year.

Kellie Goodwin McBride, director of the county’s criminal justice services department, said her team originally tried to embed the machines within local businesses — a downtown bar, a laundromat, and a convenience store — but repeatedly struck out. Sometimes, there wasn’t enough space for the machines. In other cases, McBride said, owners worried that a Narcan vending machine would convey that the business condoned or welcomed drug use.

Instead, the county installed vending machines in a nonprofit drop-in center serving local homeless residents, the state district court building, and the Law and Justice Center downtown, which houses the municipal court and county sheriff’s department. That machine, McBride said, gets the most use.

Unlike some other models, the Narcan vending machines in Helena don’t require user registration or codes to access the materials inside, making it impossible to track who is taking naloxone or if it is being used. McBride and her team acknowledge there is no consistent way to know how many opioid-related deaths the vending machines have helped prevent.

Jessica Johnson is the health education supervisor at the Southern Nevada Health District, which helped create the first vending machine collaborative in the contiguous U.S. Johnson said the project was designed to distribute naloxone and sterile syringes to reduce the spread of infectious diseases among people who inject drugs. A 2022 study found 41 fewer overdose deaths than expected were recorded in Clark County, where the machines were located, during the first year of distribution.

Johnson said one of her takeaways from the program is the importance of listening to the community’s most at-risk people. The resulting harm-reduction kiosks or vending machines can look as diverse as the places they’re located.

Public health workers across the nation have added toothbrushes, tobacco-use cessation kits, and other supplies to their vending machines based on feedback from the populations they serve, Johnson said.

While organizational hosts have not yet been chosen, Montana health department spokesperson Jon Ebelt said the agency’s recommendation to place machines at drop-in centers and sites serving homeless people is based on a desire to reach people with serious mental illnesses and others who are already seeking services at those locations.

Ebelt confirmed the department did not reference opioid overdose data or demographic information about people who most often overdose in Montana when deciding where to place the machines. Rather, he said, the decision was “based on community-based programming and existing contracts with low barrier service sites.”

Under the proposal, Ebelt said, community hosts of the vending machines will be able to select many types of additional harm-reduction supplies to distribute, “as each community has different needs,” but sterile syringes will not be among the products available in Montana’s machines. The state plans to pay for one year of supplies, after which it may use federal grants to stock the machines, and federal funds may not be used to purchase syringes for illegal drug use. Ebelt did not respond to additional inquiries about that decision or whether sites would be able to add syringes and other materials supplied through independent funding.

This article was produced through a partnership between KFF Health News and Montana Free Press.

A Little-Recognized Public Health Crisis

About every 12 minutes, someone is killed on America’s roads and countless others are injured.

More than 42,500 people died in car crashes in 2022, a death toll that rivals or surpasses those of other major public health threats, such as the flu and gun violence.

“We have not recognized that traffic violence is a preventable public health crisis,” said Amy Cohen, a co-founder of Families for Safe Streets.

Traffic-related injuries and deaths cost the health-care system more than $55 billion in 2022, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And pedestrian deaths have spiked, reaching 7,522in 2022, the highest level in more than four decades, according to the federal government.

“The transportation system shouldn’t hurt us, and it shouldn’t harm the environment,” said Johnathon Ehsani, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who uses policy and behavioral research to try to prevent car crashes.

Transportation experts blame traffic deaths on more reckless driving and less traffic enforcement than before the coronavirus pandemic, combined with larger and deadlier SUVs and trucks. But they primarily fault a transportation system that was designed for efficient movement and economic development — not safety.

To reverse that, the Biden administration is looking to the “safe system approach,” a transportation strategy that has achieved piecemeal adoption across the country.

The approach puts safety at the core of road and vehicle design and transportation policies, forcing traffic to move more slowly through communities, Ehsani said.

This translates into lowering speed limits, narrowing roads and creating separate lanes for bicyclists, and more buffers for pedestrians. He said the approach also de-emphasizes cars — which make people more sedentary and cause air pollution — and boosts public transportation.

The Biden administration in 2021 injected more than $20 billion in funding for transportation safety programs through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Some states and localities are also taking steps.

New York and Michigan adopted laws this spring allowing local jurisdictions to lower speed limits, and voters in Los Angeles approved a resident-sponsored ballot initiative to redesign streets, invest more in public transportation, add bike lanes and widen sidewalks to protect pedestrians.

But in a country where cars are inextricably linked to the culture and economy, political resistance remains entrenched.

Stuck in the middle are people whose lives and health have been devastated. I visited a Latino working-class neighborhood in Los Angeles where I met María Rivas Cruz, who in February 2023 was struck along with her fiancé, Raymond Olivares, by a driver going 70 in a 40-mph zone.

Rivas Cruz was severely injured. Olivares died at the scene.

Residents had pleaded for years for lower speed limits, safety islands and more marked crosswalks. After the crash, the county installed protective steel posts midway across the street, which Rivas Cruz called a “band-aid.”

“There’s so much death going on,” said Rivas Cruz, who now at age 28 walks with a cane and lives with chronic pain. “The representatives have failed us.”

A portrait of María Rivas Cruz, looking through a scrapbook in her home.
María Rivas Cruz looks through a scrapbook of memories from her more than a decade-long relationship with Raymond Olivares, who died last year after the two were struck by a speeding car outside their home in southeastern Los Angeles. Rivas Cruz survived but now lives with chronic pain and walks with a cane.(Lauren Justice for KFF Health News)

This article is not available for syndication due to republishing restrictions. If you have questions about the availability of this or other content for republication, please contact NewsWeb@kff.org.


5 trabajadores avícolas en Colorado dieron positivo para la gripe aviar, duplicando los casos de este año

Cinco trabajadores de una granja avícola en el noreste de Colorado han dado positivo para la gripe aviar, informó el Departamento de Salud Pública estatal el 14 de julio. Esto eleva el número conocido de casos en Estados Unidos a nueve.

Es probable que las cinco personas se infectaran por manipular pollos, a los que se les había encargado sacrificar en respuesta a un brote de gripe aviar en esa granja.

Más de 99 millones de pollos y pavos se han infectado con una cepa altamente patógena de la gripe aviar que surgió en las granjas avícolas del país a principios de 2022.

Desde entonces, el gobierno federal ha compensado a los granjeros avícolas con más de $1,000 millones por destruir bandadas y huevos infectados para frenar la propagación de los brotes.

El virus de la gripe aviar H5N1 se ha estado propagando entre las granjas avícolas de todo el mundo durante casi 30 años. Se estima que 900 personas se han infectado por aves y aproximadamente la mitad han muerto por la enfermedad.

Este año, en Estados Unidos, el virus hizo un cambio sin precedentes “saltando” al ganado lechero. Esto representa una amenaza mayor porque significa que el virus se ha adaptado para replicarse dentro de las células de las vacas, que son más parecidas a las humanas.

Las otras cuatro personas diagnosticadas este año en el país trabajaban en tambos que estaban sufriendo brotes.

Los científicos han advertido que el virus podría mutar para propagarse de persona a persona, como la gripe estacional, y desencadenar una pandemia. Aún no hay señales de que esto esté ocurriendo.

Hasta ahora, los nueve casos reportados este año han sido leves: con irritación ocular, secreción nasal y otros síntomas respiratorios. Sin embargo, los números siguen siendo demasiado bajos para decir algo certero sobre la enfermedad porque, en general, los síntomas de la gripe pueden variar entre las personas y solo una minoría necesita hospitalización.

El número de personas que han contraído el virus de las aves de corral o el ganado puede ser mayor que nueve. Los Centros para el Control y Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC) han hecho pruebas solo a unas 60 personas en los últimos cuatro meses, y los laboratorios de diagnóstico más grandes, que típicamente detectan enfermedades, aún no tienen permitido realizar pruebas.

Es muy importante hacerles estas pruebas a los trabajadores de granjas para detectar el virus de la gripe aviar H5N1, estudiarlo y frenarlo antes que se convierta en parte de sus ecosistemas.

Los investigadores han instado a una respuesta más agresiva por parte de los CDC y otras agencias federales para prevenir futuras infecciones. Muchas personas expuestas regularmente al ganado y a las aves de corral en las granjas aún carecen de equipo de protección y no reciben ningún tipo de educación sobre la enfermedad.

Y todavía no tienen permiso para recibir una vacuna contra la gripe aviar.

Casi una docena de expertos en virología y brotes entrevistados recientemente por KFF Health News no están de acuerdo con la decisión de los CDC de no vacunar, lo que, dicen, podría ayudar a prevenir la infección y hospitalización por gripe aviar.

“Deberíamos hacer todo lo posible para eliminar las posibilidades de que los trabajadores en tambos y granjas de aves contraigan este virus”, dijo Angela Rasmussen, viróloga de la Universidad de Saskatchewan, en Canadá. “Si este virus tiene suficientes oportunidades para saltar de las vacas o las aves de corral a las personas, eventualmente se volverá mejor para infectarlas”.

Para comprobar si los casos no se están detectando, investigadores en Michigan han enviado a los CDC muestras de sangre de trabajadores de tambos. Si detectan anticuerpos contra la gripe aviar, es probable que las personas se infecten más fácilmente por el ganado de lo que se creía anteriormente.

“Es posible que las personas hayan tenido síntomas que no se sintieran cómodas informando, o que sus síntomas fueran tan leves que no pensaron que valiera la pena mencionarlos”, dijo Natasha Bagdasarian, directora ejecutiva de salud médica del estado de Michigan.

Con la esperanza de frustrar una posible pandemia, Estados Unidos, el Reino Unido, Países Bajos y una docena de otros países están almacenando millones de dosis de una vacuna contra la gripe aviar fabricada por la compañía de vacunas CSL Seqirus.

La formulación más reciente de Seqirus fue aprobada el año pasado por el equivalente europeo de la Administración de Drogas y Alimentos (FDA), y una versión anterior tiene la aprobación de la FDA. En junio, Finlandia decidió ofrecer vacunas a las personas que trabajan en granjas de pieles como medida de precaución porque sus granjas de visones y zorros sufrieron duros golpes por la gripe aviar el año pasado.

De manera controversial, los CDC han decidido no ofrecer vacunas contra la gripe aviar a los grupos de riesgo.

Aunque hay millones de dosis disponibles, Demetre Daskalakis, director del Centro Nacional para la Inmunización y Enfermedades Respiratorias de los CDC, dijo a KFF Health News que en este momento la agencia no está recomendando una campaña de vacunación por varias razones. Una de ellas es que los casos aún parecen ser limitados y el virus no se está propagando rápidamente entre las personas a medida que estornudan y respiran.

La agencia sigue calificando el riesgo público como bajo. En una declaración publicada en respuesta a los nuevos casos de Colorado, los CDC dijeron que sus recomendaciones sobre la gripe aviar siguen siendo las mismas: “Una evaluación de estos casos ayudará a determinar si esta situación justifica un cambio en la evaluación del riesgo para la salud humana”.

Despite Past Storms’ Lessons, Long-Term Care Residents Again Left Powerless

HOUSTON — As Tina Kitzmiller sat inside her sweltering apartment, windows and doors open in the hope of catching even the slightest breeze, she was frustrated and worried for her dog and her neighbors.

It had been days since Hurricane Beryl blew ashore from the Gulf of Mexico on July 8, causing widespread destruction and knocking out power to more than 2 million people, including the Houston senior independent living facility where Kitzmiller lives. Outdoor temperatures had reached at least 90 degrees most days, and the heat inside the building was stifling.

Kitzmiller moved there not long ago with Kai, her 12-year-old dog, shortly after riding out 90-plus-mph winds from a May derecho under a comforter on the floor of the 33-foot RV she called home. She didn’t need medical care, as a nursing home would offer, and thought she and Kai could be safer at an independent senior facility than in the RV. She assumed her new home would have an emergency power system in place at least equivalent to that of the post offices she’d worked in for 35 years.

“I checked out the food. I checked out the activities,” said Kitzmiller, 61, now retired. “I didn’t know I needed to inquire about a generator.”

Even after multiple incidents of extreme weather — including a 2021 Texas winter storm that caused widespread blackouts and prompted a U.S. Senate investigation — not much has changed for those living in long-term care facilities when natural disasters strike in Texas or elsewhere.

“There has been some movement, but I think it’s been way too slow,” said David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School. “We keep getting tested and we keep failing the test. But I do think we are going to have to face this issue.”

A power outage can be difficult for anyone, but older adults are especially vulnerable to temperature extremes, with medications or medical conditions affecting their bodies’ ability to regulate heat and cold. Additionally, some medications need refrigeration while others cannot get too cold.

Federal guidelines require nursing homes to maintain safe indoor temperatures but do not regulate how. For example, facilities face no requirement that generators or other alternative energy sources support heating and air conditioning systems. States are largely responsible for compliance, Grabowski said, and if states are failing in that regard, change doesn’t happen.

Furthermore, while nursing homes face such federal oversight, lower-care-level facilities that provide some medical care — known as assisted living — are regulated at the state level, so the rules for emergency preparedness vary widely.

Some states have toughened those guidelines. Maryland adopted rules for generators in assisted living facilities following Hurricane Isabel, which left more than 1.2 million residents in the state without power in 2003. Florida did so for nursing homes and assisted living facilities in 2018, after Hurricane Irma led to deaths at one facility.

But Texas has not. And no requirements for generators exist in Texas for the roughly 2,000 assisted living facilities or the even less regulated independent living sites, like Kitzmiller’s.

Generally, apartment complexes marketed to senior citizens, known in the industry as independent living facilities, don’t have any special regulations in Texas and many other states.

A welcome sign and sunflower hang on a hallway wall next to an open apartment door with a rolling cart holding the door open
Amid temperatures hitting the 90s, Tina Kitzmiller left the windows and door open of her home in a Houston senior independent living facility since Hurricane Beryl knocked out power for her and more than 2 million others. She had been especially worried about residents stuck on her building’s second and third floors. Without functioning elevators, many couldn’t get to the first floor, where it was cooler.(Sandy West for KFF Health News)

Nationally, assisted living facilities and independent living facilities have been the fastest-growing sectors in senior living. Residents at such facilities often have medical needs, Grabowski said, but for a variety of reasons have chosen to live in an environment that allows more independence than a nursing home, which would provide medical care. That doesn’t mean the residents in these lower-care-level facilities are any less susceptible to extreme temperatures when the power goes out.

“If you’re overwhelmed by the heat in your apartment, that’s unsafe,” he said.

Republican state Rep. Ed Thompson tried several times since 2020 to pass legislation requiring assisted living facilities in Texas to have backup generators. But the bills failed. He is not seeking reelection this year.

“It’s horrible what the state of Texas is doing,” said Thompson, blaming corporate greed and politicians more interested in stirring up their base and raising their national profile than improving the lives of Texans. “How we treat our elderly says something about us — and they’re not being treated right.”

Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, said at a July 11 press conference that senior facility operators are accountable if they do not keep residents safe. “That location is responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of the patients and residents that are there,” he told reporters. “It is that facility’s responsibility.”

Under Texas law, power restoration is supposed to be prioritized for nursing, assisted living, and hospice facilities.

The resistance to adding oversight or more governmental protections has not surprised Gregory Shelley, a senior manager at the Harris County Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program at UTHealth Houston’s Cizik School of Nursing. He said that while he believes the safety and health of residents are paramount, he recognizes that installing generators is expensive. He also said some people within the industry continue to believe extreme events are rare.

“But all of us in Houston this year already learned that they’re happening more frequently,” Shelley said. “This is already the third time since May that big portions of Houston have been without power for long periods of time.”

After the 2021 blackouts, Texas’ Health and Human Services Commission conducted a voluntary survey that found 47% of the assisted living and 99% of the nursing care facilities that responded reported having generators.

The U.S. Senate investigation following the 2021 Texas storm recommended a national requirement that assisted living facilities have emergency power supplies to both maintain safe temperatures and keep medical equipment running.

A 2023 annual report from Texas’ long-term care ombudsman, Patty Ducayet, also recommended requiring generators at assisted living centers. The report suggested that all long-term care facilities maintain safe temperatures in a location that can be accessed by every resident. The report recommended requiring assisted living facilities to annually submit emergency response plans to state regulators to be reviewed by state officials. The recommendations have not been adopted.

On July 15 — more than a week after Beryl hit — Kitzmiller said she just wanted the power back on. She praised the staff at her facility but said she worried for residents who were isolated on her building’s second and third floors, which were hotter amid the outage. Some were unable to keep required medicine refrigerated, she said. And without functioning elevators, many couldn’t get to the first floor, where it was cooler.

Mostly, Kitzmiller said, she was frustrated with companies and politicians who hadn’t yet fixed the problem.

“It’s their mothers, their grandmothers, and their family in these homes, these facilities,” she said. “All I can think is ‘Shame on you.’”

5 Cases of Bird Flu Reported in Colorado Poultry Workers, Doubling This Year’s US Tally

Five people who work at a poultry farm in northeastern Colorado have tested positive for the bird flu, the Colorado public health department reported July 14. This brings the known number of U.S. cases to nine.

The five people were likely infected by chickens, which they had been tasked with killing in response to a bird flu outbreak at the farm.

More than 99 million chickens and turkeys have been infected with a highly pathogenic strain of the bird flu that emerged at U.S. poultry farms in early 2022. Since then, the federal government has compensated poultry farmers more than $1 billion for destroying infected flocks and eggs to keep outbreaks from spreading.

The H5N1 bird flu virus has spread among poultry farms around the world for nearly 30 years. An estimated 900 people have been infected by birds, and roughly half have died from the disease.

The virus made an unprecedented shift this year to dairy cattle in the U.S. This poses a higher threat because it means the virus has adapted to replicate within cows’ cells, which are more like human cells. The four other people diagnosed with bird flu this year in the U.S. worked on dairy farms with outbreaks.

Scientists have warned that the virus could mutate to spread from person to person, like the seasonal flu, and spark a pandemic. There’s no sign of that, yet.

So far, all nine cases reported this year have been mild, consisting of eye irritation, a runny nose, and other respiratory symptoms. However, numbers remain too low to say anything certain about the disease because, in general, flu symptoms can vary among people with only a minority needing hospitalization.

The number of people who have gotten the virus from poultry or cattle may be higher than nine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tested only about 60 people over the past four months, and powerful diagnostic laboratories that typically detect diseases remain barred from testing. Testing of farmworkers and animals is needed to detect the H5N1 bird flu virus, study it, and stop it before it becomes a fixture on farms.

Researchers have urged a more aggressive response from the CDC and other federal agencies to prevent future infections. Many people exposed regularly to livestock and poultry on farms still lack protective gear and education about the disease. And they don’t yet have permission to get a bird flu vaccine.

Nearly a dozen virology and outbreak experts recently interviewed by KFF Health News disagree with the CDC’s decision against vaccination, which may help prevent bird flu infection and hospitalization.

“We should be doing everything we can to eliminate the chances of dairy and poultry workers contracting this virus,” said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. “If this virus is given enough opportunities to jump from cows or poultry into people, it will eventually get better at infecting them.”

To understand whether cases are going undetected, researchers in Michigan have sent the CDC blood samples from workers on dairy farms. If they detect bird flu antibodies, it’s likely that people are more easily infected by cattle than previously believed.

“It’s possible that folks may have had symptoms that they didn’t feel comfortable reporting, or that their symptoms were so mild that they didn’t think they were worth mentioning,” said Natasha Bagdasarian, chief medical executive for the state of Michigan.

In hopes of thwarting a potential pandemic, the United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands, and about a dozen other countries are stockpiling millions of doses of a bird flu vaccine made by the vaccine company CSL Seqirus.

Seqirus’ most recent formulation was greenlighted last year by the European equivalent of the FDA, and an earlier version has the FDA’s approval. In June, Finland decided to offer vaccines to people who work on fur farms as a precaution because its mink and fox farms were hit by bird flu last year.

The CDC has controversially decided not to offer at-risk groups bird flu vaccines. Demetre Daskalakis, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told KFF Health News that the agency is not recommending a vaccine campaign at this point for several reasons, even though millions of doses are available. One is that cases still appear to be limited, and the virus isn’t spreading rapidly between people as they sneeze and breathe.

The agency continues to rate the public’s risk as low. In a statement posted in response to the new Colorado cases, the CDC said its bird flu recommendations remain the same: “An assessment of these cases will help inform whether this situation warrants a change to the human health risk assessment.”

Journalists Discuss FTC and Supreme Court Actions — And What’s Up With the Bird Flu

KFF Health News contributor Andy Miller discussed the Federal Trade Commission criticizing pharmacy benefit managers on KCBS on July 9. He also discussed diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in medicine and bird flu on WUGA’s “The Georgia Health Report” on July 5 and June 28, respectively.


KFF Health News senior correspondent Aneri Pattani discussed the Supreme Court decision to throw out a bankruptcy deal involving the makers of OxyContin, which would have shielded the owners of Purdue Pharma from civil lawsuits, on NPR’s “Weekend Edition Sunday” on June 30. Pattani discussed the same issue in a Facebook Live conversation with Community Education Group on July 3.


Finlandia ofrece vacunas contra la gripe aviar a sus trabajadores agrícolas. Estados Unidos debería hacer lo mismo, dicen expertos

A medida que la gripe aviar se propaga entre las vacas lecheras en Estados Unidos, veterinarios e investigadores han tomado nota de la decisión de Finlandia de vacunar a los trabajadores agrícolas que corren el riesgo de infectarse. Y se preguntan por qué su gobierno no se hace lo mismo.

“Los trabajadores agrícolas, veterinarios y productores están manejando grandes volúmenes de leche que pueden contener altos niveles del virus de la gripe aviar”, dijo Kay Russo, veterinaria de ganado y aves de corral en Fort Collins, Colorado. “Si una vacuna parece proporcionar algo de inmunidad, creo que también habría que ofrecérsela a ellos”.

La mayoría de una docena de expertos en virología y brotes epidémicos entrevistados por KFF Health News, está de acuerdo con Russo.

Dijeron que a las personas que trabajan en tambos se les debería ofrecer la vacuna contra una enfermedad que ha matado a aproximadamente la mitad de las personas que se sabe que la han contraído en todo el mundo durante las últimas dos décadas, que ha matado a gatos en Estados Unidos este año, y que tiene potencial pandémico.

Sin embargo, otros investigadores están de acuerdo con la posición de los Centros para el Control y Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC), que recomiendan no vacunar por ahora. Consideran que no hay evidencia de que el virus de la gripe aviar de este año se propague entre personas, o cause enfermedad grave en humanos. Y que tampoco está lo suficientemente claro qué tan eficaz es la vacuna disponible a la hora de prevenir cualquiera de estos escenarios.

Sin embargo, para Jennifer Nuzzo, directora del Centro Pandémico de la Universidad Brown, la táctica de esperar y ver “es una apuesta”. “Para cuando tengamos consecuencias graves, muchas personas ya se habrán contagiado”, aseguró.

“Ahora es el momento de ofrecer las vacunas a los trabajadores agrícolas en Estados Unidos”, dijo Nahid Bhadelia, directora del Centro de Enfermedades Infecciosas Emergentes de la Universidad de Boston. Agregó que en el país hasta las medidas más apremiantes están retrasadas.  Bhadelia considera que es urgente realizar análisis tanto a los trabajadores agrícolas como a las vacas para detectar la presencia del virus de la gripe aviar H5N1, estudiarlo y erradicarlo antes de que se establezca en las granjas, lo que representaría una amenaza pandémica constante.

Demetre Daskalakis, director del Centro Nacional de Inmunización y Enfermedades Respiratorias de los CDC, explicó que la agencia se toma muy en serio a la gripe aviar y que se están almacenando 4.8 millones de dosis de la vacuna. Pero admitió que “no hay ninguna recomendación para lanzar una campaña de vacunación”.

“Se trata de la relación riesgo-beneficio”, comentó Daskalakis. Los beneficios todavía son inciertos porque no contamos con suficientes testeos como para entender con qué facilidad el virus pasa de las vacas a las personas, y tampoco sabemos cuán grave puede ser la enfermedad.

Este año, en Estados Unidos, solo cuatro personas han dado positivo y fueron casos leves. Es un número muy limitado, que no permite sacar conclusiones definitivas.

También informaron que han estado enfermos otros trabajadores agrícolas y veterinarios que trabajan en granjas lecheras donde se han detectados casos de gripe aviar. Sin embargo, no se les hicieron los análisis correspondientes. Desde que se detectó el brote en marzo, los hospitales públicos han examinado solo a unas 50 personas que podrían haberse contagiado.

De todos modos, Daskalakis aseguró que los CDC no están preocupados por la posibilidad de que la agencia esté pasando por alto infecciones significativas de gripe aviar debido a su sistema de vigilancia de la influenza. Los hospitales reportan pacientes con casos graves de gripe y este año los números se mantienen normales.

Otro indicio que tranquiliza a la agencia es que el virus aún no ha desarrollado mutaciones que le permitan propagarse rápidamente cuando la gente estornuda o respira. “Si comenzáramos a ver cambios en el virus, ese sería un factor que incidiría en la decisión de pasar de una fase de planificación a una fase operativa”, explicó Daskalakis.

Para evaluar si administrar o no las vacunas, la agencia se basó en el brote de gripe porcina de 1976. En aquel momento, los funcionarios temían que se pudiera repetir la pandemia de gripe porcina de 1918, que mató aproximadamente a medio millón de personas en Estados Unidos. Por lo tanto, en un año vacunaron rápidamente a casi 43 millones de personas.

Pero ese año los casos de gripe porcina resultaron ser leves. Esto hizo que la campaña de vacunación se considerara innecesariamente riesgosa ya que surgieron varios informes de un trastorno potencialmente mortal, el síndrome de Guillain-Barré.

Hay que tener en cuenta que, según los CDC, aproximadamente una persona de cada millón que son vacunadas contra la influenza puede desarrollar ese síndrome. En el balance, el beneficio de la prevención supera al riesgo. Desde el 1 de octubre por lo menos 830,000 personas han sido hospitalizadas por la gripe estacional y entre 25,000 y 75,000 han muerto.

Un informe elaborado tiempo después respecto de las acciones frente a la gripe porcina de 1976 habló de una “experiencia aleccionadora y con moraleja” sobre qué pasa si se responde prematuramente a una amenaza incierta para la salud pública.

“Es una historia sobre lo que sucede cuando lanzas un programa de vacunación en el que se está aceptando correr riesgos sin que haya un beneficio demostrado”, señaló Daskalakis.

Paul Offit, virólogo del Hospital Infantil de Philadelphia, se alinea con la decisión que tomaron los CDC. “Esperaría a tener más datos”, dijo.

Sin embargo, otros investigadores dicen que el escenario de 1976 fue distinto. Nadie está sugiriendo vacunar a decenas de millones de personas: se está hablando de una vacuna totalmente voluntaria para los miles de trabajadores que están en contacto cotidiano con el ganado, lo que reduce la posibilidad de efectos adversos raros.

La vacuna contra la gripe aviar que está disponible, fabricada por la empresa de vacunas contra la gripe CSL Seqirus, fue autorizada el año pasado por el equivalente europeo de la Administración de Drogas y Alimentos (FDA). Una versión previa tiene la aprobación de la FDA, pero la más reciente aún no recibió la luz verde.

Aunque la vacuna está dirigida a una cepa diferente de gripe aviar que la H5N1, que es la que circula actualmente entre las vacas, los estudios muestran que desencadena una respuesta inmune contra ambas variantes. Se considera segura porque utiliza la misma tecnología en base a huevo que se despliega cada año en las vacunas contra la gripe estacional.

Por estas razones, Estados Unidos, el Reino Unido, Holanda y otra docena de países están almacenando millones de dosis. Finlandia espera ofrecérselas este mes también a quienes trabajan en granjas peleteras, como precaución porque sus granjas de visones y zorros fueron golpeadas por la gripe aviar el año pasado.

En contraste, las vacunas de ARNm que se están desarrollando contra la gripe aviar serían las primeras de su tipo también para la influenza. El 2 de julio, el gobierno de Estados Unidos anunció que pagaría a la farmacéutica Moderna $176 millones por su desarrollo y que las vacunas podrían entrar en la etapa de ensayos clínicos el próximo año.

Utilizadas ampliamente contra covid-19, esta nueva tecnología emplea ARNm para enseñar al sistema inmune cómo reconocer virus particulares.

Mientras tanto, Florian Krammer, virólogo especializado en gripe en la Escuela de Medicina Icahn de Mount Sinai, señaló que las personas que trabajan en tambos deberían tener la opción de recibir la vacuna basada en huevo. Esta vacuna desencadena una respuesta inmunitaria contra un componente principal del virus H5N1 de la gripe aviar, lo que debería brindar un grado de protección contra la infección y la enfermedad grave, explicó.

Aun así, la protección no sería del 100%. Y nadie sabe cuántos contagios y hospitalizaciones podría prevenir esta vacuna, ya que no se ha utilizado para combatir el virus de este año. Esos datos deben recopilarse en estudios que rastreen qué resultado tuvo en las personas que opten por ser vacunadas, agregó.

A Krammer no lo tranquiliza que no se hayan detectado casos graves de gripe aviar en las clínicas. “Porque cuando los indicios llegan a los hospitales, significa que la situación ya se encuentra fuera de control, que estamos frente a una pandemia”, dijo. “Y eso es lo que queremos evitar”.

El virólogo y otros especialistas enfatizaron que Estados Unidos debería estar haciendo todo lo posible para frenar las infecciones antes de octubre, cuando comienza la temporada de gripe. La vacuna podría proporcionar una capa adicional de protección, que se sumaría a las evaluaciones, el uso de guantes y gafas, y la desinfección del equipo de ordeñe.

Algunos científicos temen que, si las personas contraen la gripe aviar y la gripe estacional simultáneamente, los virus de la gripe aviar podrían generar adaptaciones de los virus estacionales que les permitieran propagarse rápidamente entre humanos.

También dicen que podría llevar meses distribuir las vacunas después que se recomiende oficialmente, ya que ese tipo de campaña requiere grandes esfuerzos de divulgación.

Bethany Boggess Alcauter, directora de investigación del National Center for Farmworker Health, comentó que las personas que trabajan con vacas lecheras aún carecen de información sobre el virus, cuatro meses después del inicio de este brote.

Los funcionarios de salud han hablado con los propietarios de tambos, pero las entrevistas de Boggess con los trabajadores agrícolas permiten pensar que esas conversaciones no han llegado a su personal.

Un trabajador agrícola en el Panhandle de Texas le contó a Boggess que en su trabajo le dijeron que se desinfectara las manos y las botas para proteger a las vacas de enfermedades que los trabajadores puedan transmitir. “Nunca nos dijeron que la vaca podría infectarnos con alguna enfermedad”, dijo el hombre en español.

El ritmo siempre lento en que se divulga la información es un recordatorio de que todo lleva tiempo, incluidas las decisiones sobre vacunación. Para resolver si recomendar las vacunas, los CDC normalmente buscan orientación de su Comité Asesor sobre Prácticas de Inmunización, o ACIP. Un consultor del grupo, el investigador de enfermedades infecciosas William Schaffner, ha pedido repetidamente a la agencia que presente su opinión sobre la vacuna contra la gripe aviar de Seqirus.

En lugar de preocuparse por la situación de la gripe porcina de 1976, Schaffner sugirió que los CDC consideren la pandemia de gripe porcina de 2009-10. Esta pandemia causó más de 274,000 hospitalizaciones y 12,000 muertes en Estados Unidos en un año. Para cuando comenzó la vacunación, dijo, gran parte del daño ya estaba hecho.

“El momento de discutir esto con ACIP es ahora”, sostuvo Schaffner. Es decir, antes de que la gripe aviar se convierta en una emergencia de salud pública. “No queremos que se comience a discutir cuando ya sea demasiado tarde”.