Wednesday, August 26, 2009

[Australia] Two million shots for most at risk of swine flu:,21985,25954329-661,00.html

Ben Packham and Stephen McMahon
August 20, 2009 12:00am
EXCLUSIVE: MILLIONS of Australians will be vaccinated against the deadly swine flu within weeks.

Pregnant women, health workers and the chronically ill will be first to get the medicine.

The Federal Government will take delivery of two million doses of the vaccine by the end of next week.

More than 450,000 doses have been earmarked for Victoria - where 22 people with the disease have died.

Special immunisation clinics are likely to be set up in major hospitals, while GPs will also administer the vaccine.

Vaccinations could begin by September 7 if approval is given by Chief Medical Officer Jim Bishop and a team of health experts.

The Government has ordered 21 million doses of the swine flu vaccine, enough to protect every Australian.

Pregnant women, especially those in the second or third trimester, and anyone with a respiratory illness, such as asthma or cystic fibrosis, will be vaccinated first.

Cardiac patients, cancer sufferers, the morbidly obese and those with type 2 diabetes would also get priority, along with doctors, nurses and other health workers.

Federal health authorities are still awaiting safety data from vaccine manufacturer CSL before approving the massive vaccination program, which will be closely watched overseas.

It is believed the Government is not fully satisfied with initial information provided by the company.

CSL spokeswoman Rachel David said the vaccine was almost identical to its seasonal flu formulation, and trials had revealed no unanticipated side effects.

"We have given the Government an initial safety update on the swine flu trials, which confirms there are no untoward or unexpected issues with adverse events," she said.

"We will continue to monitor this throughout the trial and after the vaccine is released to the market."

CSL will deliver the vaccine to the Government in batches until January.

Victoria has been hard hit by swine flu, with almost 3000 confirmed cases and thousands more going undetected.

Across the nation, there have been 32,224 confirmed cases and 121 people with the virus have died.

A Department of Human Services spokesman said 22 Victorians were in hospital with the disease - nine in intensive care.

"People at risk and front-line health care workers will be the first groups of people to get the vaccine," he said.

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