Reflections on the 1976 swine flu vaccination program

Emerg Infect Dis. 2006 Jan;12(1):29-33. doi: 10.3201/eid1201.051007.


In 1976, 2 recruits at Fort Dix, New Jersey, had an influenza like illness. Isolates of virus taken from them included A/New Jersey/76 (Hsw1n1), a strain similar to the virus believed at the time to be the cause of the 1918 pandemic, commonly known as swine flu. Serologic studies at Fort Dix suggested that >200 soldiers had been infected and that person-to-person transmission had occurred. We review the process by which these events led to the public health decision to mass-vaccinate the American public against the virus and the subsequent events that led to the program's cancellation. Observations of policy and implementation success and failures are presented that could help guide decisions regarding avian influenza.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Decision Making
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome / chemically induced
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Influenza A virus / immunology*
  • Influenza Vaccines / adverse effects
  • Influenza Vaccines / history*
  • Influenza Vaccines / immunology
  • Influenza, Human / epidemiology*
  • Influenza, Human / history*
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control
  • Influenza, Human / virology
  • Male
  • Mass Vaccination / history*
  • National Health Programs / history
  • New Jersey / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Influenza Vaccines