As reported in the journal Nature Federal officials have granted emergency approval to a bird flu vaccine for use in the California condor (Gymnogyps californianus). The move comes after more than a dozen of the birds, which are critically endangered, recently died from the virus, known as H5N1. The species had a brush with extinction in 1987: only 27 wild condors remained at that time, so US officials captured them, bred them in captivity and released them back into the wild. Today, the birds remain one of the world’s rarest avian species: as of last year, there were 537 condors, and 63% of them lived in the wild. So far this year, officials have found 21 dead condors, 15 of which tested positive for HPAI. (The bodies of four birds couldn’t be recovered, so their HPAI status is unknown.) The emergency approval is “an attempt to prevent additional deaths of these birds,” said the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As with any vaccine safety and efficacy need to be established. Last week, scientists gave the jab to 20 black vultures (Coragyps atratus), which are part of the same family as the condors but are not endangered, to test the vaccine’s safety and efficacy. They will also vaccinate captive California condors before inoculating the wild population during an annual routine health check. Yeah for vaccine research and fingers crossed for the California Condor.