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November 8, 2009

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Beijing plans to expand swine flu inoculations

BEIJING is leading the country in expanding its swine flu inoculation program to cover all people with permanent residency in the capital.

The roll-out will begin on November 16.

The program will continue until December 13 and some 402 clinics will be opened across the city to provide people with free shots.

Temporary residents may also get inoculated with the H1N1 flu vaccine if they work in important public service departments, said Zhao Tao, director of the emergency response office under the Beijing Health Bureau.

Zhao said the city has 3.63 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine.

"Everyone above three years old with registered residence in the city can be inoculated for free if they want it," he added.

He said more vaccines would be allocated to the city.

Previously, Beijing had given priority to people more likely to fall victim to swine flu, such as students and medical personnel, when handing out the vaccine.

As of Thursday, the city had vaccinated 440,000 residents, most of whom were students and people with key public service jobs.

More than 6 million people had received the vaccine across the country as of Friday, according to the Ministry of Health.

Sixteen H1N1 deaths had been recorded from about 55,000 cases on the Chinese mainland.

The ministry also announced a change regarding H1N1 deaths.

Under the new rules, people who are cured of swine flu, but die of preexisting conditions or of complications from the flu virus will be counted as H1N1 deaths.

"It's in line with international practice and is more accurate in reflecting the pandemic situation here in China," said Feng Zijian, director of the emergency response department at the Chinese Center of Disease Prevention and Control.

At least 6,071 people worldwide have been killed by the virus, the World Health Organization said on Friday.


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