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September 24, 2009

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26 million H1N1 shots ready soon

CHINA will have reserves of 26 million H1N1 flu vaccine shots at the end of October, according to a news briefing jointly held by the Ministry of Health and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing yesterday.

"The number is expected to increase to 100 million when the country finishes its second phase of production and reservation," said Deng Haihua, deputy director of the health ministry general office.

"Some 13,000 volunteers in seven provincial areas who have taken part in the testing of the H1N1 flu vaccination proved the domestically made vaccine is effective," said Zhao Kai, leader of the expert team for the vaccine and a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

Zhao said the volunteers covered all age brackets.

They received the first shots about two months ago and will be sampled for effectiveness and term of protection next month.

"Generally speaking, the inoculations are safe, but we cannot rule out the possibility of adverse reactions," said Liang Xiaofeng, director of the immunization center under the CCDCP.

Beijing has been leading the country in inoculation. About 39,000 residents in the city had been inoculated by Tuesday afternoon, with 14 cases of adverse reactions.

Liang said four of the 14 adverse reactions may be related to the vaccines.

"We are still investigating the reasons," Liang said.

Liang also said there was still uncertainty about the safety of H1N1 vaccinations for "sensitive groups" such as pregnant and breastfeeding women.

China is focusing its inoculation efforts on groups like students, teachers and patients with chronic diseases.

In response to possible serious adverse outcomes, China has set up a system which will enable local health departments to halt inoculations.

So far, no deaths from H1N1 flu have been reported on the mainland, but Taiwan has reported 17 deaths, of whom two were pregnant women.

On Monday, more than 10,000 students and performers in Beijing who are to take part in the National Day parade and performances on October 1 received vaccinations, with no adverse reactions, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Health said on Tuesday.


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