Sweden Kicks Off Mass Vaccination Campaign Against Swine Flu

by VR Sreeraman on Oct 13 2009 1:03 PM

Sweden began inoculations against swine flu on Monday, kicking off a mass vaccination campaign that it is offering to its entire population, officials said.

Health care staff at Malmoe University Hospital in southern Sweden were the first to receive their vaccinations, hospital officials told AFP.

Other clinics and hospitals around the country were to begin offering the shots later this week or early next week, with health care workers and pregnant women given priority, public health authorities said.

The Swedish government has set aside one billion kronor (100 million euros, 142 million dollars) to help pay for the vaccination of its entire population against the A(H1N1) virus.

The vaccinations are thus free of charge to patients.

Recent surveys have shown that between 50 and 70 percent of Swedes plan to vaccinate themselves, but health care authorities have said a figure closer to 80 percent is necessary to prevent the spread of a second wave of the pandemic.

The Scandinavian country has registered two deaths from swine flu.

Sweden bought 18 million doses of the vaccine from British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, enough to provide its population of some 9.3 million people with two doses each if necessary.