(AFP) – 11 hours ago
BEIJING — The World Health Organization encouraged Chinese citizens to be vaccinated against swine flu Tuesday, calling the shot "safe and effective" after an opinion poll revealed wariness about quality.
Michael O'Leary, the WHO's new representative in China, said tests had shown side effects from the homegrown A(H1N1) vaccine were "mild and temporary" and should not keep those most vulnerable to the virus from being inoculated.
"In China, over 12,000 people took part in field trials" before the country launched its mass swine flu vaccination programme last month, O'Leary said in comments emailed to AFP.
"They demonstrated that the vaccine is safe and effective, with occasional mild and temporary symptoms as expected. We recommend the use of this vaccine for use among priority groups in China."
He added, "the risk of disease is much higher than the risk of vaccine. Global deaths from H1N1 have reached at least 5,000. In contrast, the vaccine has caused zero deaths."
China, which has the world's largest population at 1.3 billion, has launched the mass vaccination campaign in a bid to stave off large outbreaks, especially as winter -- and the regular flu season -- sets in here.
The government has said it plans to inoculate five percent of the population, or 65 million people, against swine flu by year's end. So far, 300,000 people have received the vaccination.
But on Monday, the state English-language China Daily published a survey revealing that more than half of all Chinese do not plan to be vaccinated against swine flu because they are unsure about the safety of the shot.
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