A/H1N1 vaccination extended in China

0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, December 12, 2009
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The Chinese government has expanded its A/H1N1 vaccination priority group to include pregnant women, migrant workers, and people with close contacts with animals such as butchers and veterinarians. As disease experts predict that the virus will peak in the coming months, these groups are thought to also be at a high risk for contracting the disease.

China has vaccinated more than 30 million people against the A/H1N1 flu since September, focusing mostly on elementary and secondary school students, the chronically ill, and people in key public service posts like medical workers.

"With the constantly changing pandemic situation in the nation, we include more as vaccination priorities," Liang Wannian, the director of the emergency response office under the Ministry of Health told the press Friday.

To prepare for the coming New Year and Spring Festival, when the country expects tens of millions travelers nationwide and the peak winter flu season, health authorities are working to speed up the inoculation program, Liang said.

"We hope all high-risk individuals would get the shot before the Spring Festival, when many people travel for family reunions," he said.

However, Liang did concede that the vaccinations were not proceeding as fast as they had previously, in part because people are worried about the safety of the vaccine. But Liang said those concerns are ungrounded.

About 1 million people are vaccinated daily on average, but the government hopes to increase that to 1.5 million, Liang said. Previously, Health Minister Chen Zhu pledged to vaccinate at least 65 million people against the pandemic flu by the end of year.

According to the most recent online survey by China Daily and Sohu.com, one of China's major news portals, 40.38 percent of the 2,286 respondents said they didn't want the vaccination because of worries about its safety – a slightly higher percentage than those who said they did want the vaccine. The rest said would simply follow others.

In addition, more than 63 percent of those polled said were worried about the flu pandemic.

"I wash my hands more frequently now and wear masks while I am out," said Fu Rong, a college teacher in Beijing.

Consumer goods like alcohol-based sanitizers and facial masks have become especially popular recently, said industry insiders. Chris Lei, CEO of the Austria-based Global Health Biotechnology Company, a specialized personal hygiene products manufacturer, said the A/H1N1 flu has refocused attention on keeping healthy and clean, and thus helped promote the sales of their products, including daily hand disinfectants.


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