In 2009, the world responded to its first influenza pandemic since 1968. A new strain of the virus was discovered in March when three children (California and Texas) were hospitalized for respiratory infections. The following month, the H1N1 virus took its first victim: a young boy in Mexico. As the severity of the outbreak became clearer, a massive coordinated response effort was undertaken by government agencies, scientists, private industry, and the general public.
Over the next few months, a vaccine was tested and developed. In July, all communications about H1N1 and seasonal flu became centralized on a new website: www.flu.gov, providing users with a one-stop comprehensive site for flu-related information from across HHS and other federal agencies. In October, distribution began. Early on, the vaccine was allocated to priority groups who were most vulnerable. Today everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated. Supplies have increased and there are over 118 million doses available – setting a record for production in eight months time.
The threat of the H1N1 flu is still very serious and very real. The virus is unpredictable and it’s unclear whether we’ll see a third wave of outbreak. The increase in vaccine supplies means that now is a good window of opportunity to get yourself, and your family, vaccinated. This is the best way to keep ourselves and our communities safe and healthy.
The multimedia timeline captures the following information across 10 months, beginning in March 2009:
- Waves of illness
- Vaccine development and doses allocated
- Government actions
- A sampling of news headlines, maps, and videos
- Brief synopses for each month