Czech Republic to start vaccinating against swine flu next week

Photo: CTK

With a sharp increase in swine flu cases in recent days, hospitals across the country are bracing for an epidemic. The first batch of 95,000 swine flu vaccines arrived earlier this week and on Thursday the Czech government announced who would be first in line for them.

Photo: CTK
The first 95, 000 dozes of swine flu vaccine are now in Prague and they will be distributed to GP’s offices and vaccination centers around the country over the next few days. First in line for them are chronically ill patients – patients with lowered immunity, asthma sufferers, people who have recently undergone surgery or dialysis patients. Second in line are health workers and lastly employees considered vital to the functioning of the state. Although the authorities have been criticized for acquiring the vaccine “too little, too late” Health Minister Dana Jurásková had good news on Thursday, saying that the vaccine would be available to more patients than expected. This is because health experts now agree that one dose per patient will suffice, as opposed to previous assumptions that two doses per patient were necessary. On the recommendation of specialists two doses will only be administered to high-risk groups.

This brings the amount of people who can receive a vaccination to almost a million, roughly a tenth of population of the Czech Republic, where 650 people have tested positive for the virus and three have died of the disease so far.

Anti-viral drugs for 2,5 million patients will also be distributed to doctors offices and hospitals around the country. Along with the vaccine, doctors will receive 20 packages each of Tamiflu, a drug used to treat seasonal influenza and said to be equally effective against the swine flu.

Dana Jurásková, photo: CTK
Meanwhile, with the spread of the virus across the country, schools have been closing down, three this week alone, and hospitals have been restricting visits in order to protect their patients. People have been encouraged to get a seasonal flu jab this year, but the country’s chief hygiene officer Michál Vít said on Thursday there was no reason to panic. The majority of swine flu cases in the Czech Republic have been light and health statistics from Prague and the regions suggest that the country has yet to reach the threshold of an epidemic.