Posted August. 29, 2009 07:57,
Five to 10 million people will be vaccinated against the H1N1 flu virus by years end, health authorities said yesterday.
The massive vaccination campaign to begin in November will inoculate 27 percent of the population, or 13.36 million people, against influenza A by February next year.
Health, Welfare and Family Affairs Minister Jeon Jae-hee announced the plan to reporters yesterday and that the government has secured 10 million doses of anti-viral vaccines.
Lee Jong-ku, head of the Korea Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, visited GlaxoSmithKline Plc. in Belgium early this week to secure three million doses of vaccines against the flu. Korean vaccine manufacturer Green Cross will produce seven million doses.
Green Cross is expected to charge 8,000 won (6.40 U.S. dollars) per vaccine and GlaxoSmithKline 14,000 won (11.20 dollars).
In Seoul, the administration and the ruling Grand National Party decided yesterday to set aside 110 billion won (88.3 million dollars) from this years budget to purchase vaccines.
The number of vaccine shots people should take has yet to be decided due to incomplete clinical trials. Experts say one or two shots will be enough, however.
Green Cross will expand its vaccine supply to 10 million to 20 million doses by adding immune boosters to the five million additional doses it plans to produce in January and February next year.
Medical staff and health officials will be the first to be vaccinated, followed by pregnant women, infants and small children.
On why the elderly, high risk groups including those with chronic illnesses, students and soldiers were excluded from the priority list, Jeon said, Considering the situation facing people at increased risk of illness, we will adjust the vaccination priority list.
Separately, the stockpile of antiviral medications will be expanded to treat 22 percent of the population by purchasing anti-viral drugs for an additional five million people this year. The government also said anti-viral drugs for 20 percent of the population will be reserved from next year.
On raising the national epidemic alert level to serious, Jeon said, Certain countries say a pandemic occurs when 2.6 people for every 1,000 people are infected with the virus. We, however, will consider the severity of patients conditions along with the number of flu cases in raising the national epidemic alert level.
The flu had infected 1.8 out of every 1,000 people in Korea as of Tuesday.