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China's National Day Paraders Will be First to Get Flu Vaccines

by VR Sreeraman on September 8, 2009 at 12:01 PM
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 China's National Day Paraders Will be First to Get Flu Vaccines

About 100,000 student volunteers who have been selected to participate in China's National Day celebrations on October 1 will be among the first to get swine flu vaccines here, state media said Tuesday.

The measure is part of a plan put in place by the Beijing municipal health bureau to ensure that the festivities marking 60 years of communist rule go off without a hitch, the China Daily reported, quoting bureau spokesman Ma Yanming.

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Premier Wen Jiabao has urged health authorities to step up efforts to stave off a huge outbreak of A(H1N1) influenza ahead of the October 1 holiday, which will be marked with a military parade and a mass pageant in the capital.

China had confirmed 5,592 cases of swine flu as of Monday, but no deaths had been reported.

The government will soon launch its nationwide vaccination programme, the State Council, or cabinet, said in a statement issued after a meeting chaired by Wen late Monday, without giving a precise date.
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Beijing plans to vaccinate 65 million people, or five percent of the total population of 1.3 billion, before year's end.

The country's State Food and Drug Administration last week granted approval to Beijing-based Sinovac to mass produce its swine flu vaccine.

A company spokesman told the China Daily that the first two million doses of a five-million-dose order would be ready this month.

The World Health Organization has warned of a possible A(H1N1) vaccine shortage as winter -- and the regular flu season -- approaches in the northern hemisphere.

The WHO says at least 2,185 people have died worldwide after contracting swine flu, now the most prevalent strain of influenza. It has been detected in nearly every country in the world.

October 1 marks the beginning of a week-long nationwide holiday in China, when an estimated 200 million people will travel to visit loved ones and friends.

The government has asked aviation and railway authorities to devise contingency plans in case of outbreaks during the holiday period, according to the cabinet statement.

Source: AFP
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