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November 28, 1980

Legionnaires' Disease Legacies

Author Affiliations

University of North Dakota School of Medicine Fargo

JAMA. 1980;244(21):2416. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310210018014

To the Editor.—  The editorial comments by Samuel Vaisrub, MD, on historical aspects of Legionnaires' disease (243:1747, 1980) might well have included one additional legacy: its impact on the ill-fated swine influenza vaccination program.1It may be recalled that, in the spring of 1976 the American public had been warned of the strong probability of an impending epidemic of swine influenza. Indeed, the federal government had pushed for a massive inoculation program designed to vaccinate every person in the United States. However, by June 1976, the program stalled because vaccine manufacturers refused to accept liability that might result from injury or death caused by the vaccine. Private insurers also would not take the risk; therefore, legislation was proposed that would make the federal government liable for adverse effects caused by the vaccine. Members of the congressional committee reviewing the proposal questioned the wisdom of the government accepting this liability,