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Free swine flu shots ready soon

2009. 14 October

by Cai Wenjun
( The city is expected to begin offering free swine flu shots for high-risk population groups late this week, the Shanghai Health Bureau said yesterday.

Medical staff, police officers, entry-exit personnel and public transportation, airline, railway and hotel workers along with students and teachers at kindergartens and primary and middle schools are eligible for the no-cost shots. Most people will receive inoculations at their school or workplace.

The vaccination program, to be carried out with supplies from the Shanghai Institute of Biological Products, should be finished by December.

"The shots are entirely voluntary," said bureau official Song Guofan.

He said the bureau did not include staff and volunteers for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo in the current inoculation program because the swine flu virus strain might mutate before the event begins.

"A vaccination plan will be developed based on the spread of swine flu early next year," the bureau official said.

Meanwhile, free vaccinations for seasonal flu will go into full swing from next month to February, the bureau said yesterday.

Those shots will be given to Expo staff and volunteers, medical workers, frontier staff at entry-exit ports, public transportation personnel, kindergarten teachers, primary and middle school teachers and students and people age 60 or older, including those with local permanent residency and seniors who have been in the city for more than six months.

This year is the first time that local authorities are offering free seasonal flu shots. They did so because of the concurrent threat of swine flu and also to protect visitors to the World Expo.

"About 3.6 million doses of seasonal flu vaccine will be needed for the free program," Xu Jianguang, director of Shanghai Health Bureau, said yesterday.

As of Monday, 1,037 people had contracted swine flu since the first case was detected here in late May. The seasonal flu situation is similar to last year, the bureau said, without providing specific figures.