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December 16, 2009

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Shanghai extends H1N1 shots

SHANGHAI yesterday decided to extend free swine-flu vaccination to workers, especially non-locals, in labor-intensive enterprises amid peak H1N1 warnings for the Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on February 14.

"Large numbers of travelers during the Spring Festival period will cause great pressure on the ability to control the spread of H1N1," Xu Jianguang, director of the Shanghai Health Bureau, said at a government meeting yesterday.

Animal carers in zoos and livestock-market staff were also added to the list.

The city is primed to inoculate pregnant women but awaiting approval from the Ministry of Health, officials said.

Since Shanghai started its vaccination program two months ago, more than 1.12 million people, including 927,000 students and teachers at kindergartens and primary and secondary schools, have received swine-flu shots.

About 545 people are suspected of having mild adverse reactions to the vaccine, with two slightly more serious.

Health officials have not disclosed the nature of the more serious reactions.

The shots were first given to medical staff, those in the public service and kindergarten, primary and middle school students and teachers.

The city started to vaccinate college students and staff yesterday as the second batch of the most at-risk population.

'Now best time'

Only 37 percent of college staff and students agreed to receive the shots, compared to 85.55 percent of counterparts in primary and secondary schools.

Previous inaccurate reports of deaths after the vaccinations and negligence of the potential for outbreak caused the low acceptance rate, officials said.

"Now is the best time to receive the vaccination," Xu said. "The swine-flu outbreak in the country could peak over the next several months, especially when hundreds of millions of people return home for the Spring Festival.

"Less than five in every 10,000 people showed adverse reactions against the swine-flu vaccine, which is lower than for that of seasonal flu."

As of Sunday, 2,491 people in the city have been infected with swine flu, with 70 in a critical condition.

Twenty-nine have been discharged, 37 remain hospitalized and there have been four fatalities, according to the bureau.

Meanwhile, the city will today start to offer voluntary free seasonal-flu vaccinations to children, the elderly, medical-care personnel and people involved with the Shanghai 2010 World Expo.

A total of 3.6 million free seasonal-flu shots will be offered to the more vulnerable sectors of the population.

This is the first year that free seasonal-flu shots have been available.

Experts advised people to receive both vaccinations, but not in the same week.


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