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January 5, 2010

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Chinese H1N1 flu vaccine not responsible for deaths: official

CHINESE health officials have ruled out the China-made H1N1 flu vaccine in the causes of the deaths of two people who were inoculated in December, a Ministry of Health official said yesterday.

By the end of the year, about 49.9 million people nationwide had been inoculated against the H1N1 flu, and about one person in every million developed a serious adverse reaction, Liang Wannian, director of the ministry's emergency response office, told a press conference.

The proportion was similar to data from the World Health Organization, said Liang.

He gave no other details on the two people who died or the causes of death.

By last Saturday the Chinese mainland had reported more than 120,000 H1N1 flu cases. A total of 111,057 cases had recovered while 659 people had died, he said.

There was a drop in the weekly number of reported new cases, but the number of serious cases and deaths, especially those of chronic patients, obese people and pregnant women, had increased sharply, he said.

Liang encouraged pregnant women to receive the H1N1 flu vaccine as they were among the most susceptible to the virus.

More than 1,400 pregnant women had been inoculated as of the end of last year, said Liang.

"None of them showed serious adverse reactions," he said. "It proved the vaccine is safe for pregnant women."

In a guide issued on December?30 to decrease the number of pregnant women catching the flu strain, the ministry suggested women put off plans to have a child.

About 13.7 percent of the deaths from the H1N1 influenza on the Chinese mainland were pregnant women, according to statistics released by the ministry last month.

Liang said, "The epidemic is spreading further in the countryside and urban communities."

Rural areas, especially rural schools, would be the key region for H1N1 flu prevention and control in the next stage, said Liang.

He warned of a "severe" situation for flu control in the next two months, especially during the Spring Festival, which falls in mid-February, when many Chinese families would be traveling and gathering.


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