Swine flu vaccine will be available for those at greater risk

On Tuesday the Czech Health Ministry released information on swine flu vaccines ahead of an expected surge in the epidemic in the Czech Republic this autumn, revealing just who in the population of 10 million will receive vaccines.

The swine flu vaccine is given in two doses and the country has bought one million, meaning 500,000 people in the Czech Republic will soon be given the swine flu shot. Who will they be? The health ministry revealed on Tuesday, above all those at greater risk: health workers, fire fighters, as well as social workers at institutions and patients suffering chronic ailments. Those with respiratory diseases, hearts problems, women with high risk pregnancies. One thing has changed – the health minister revealed, the country’s politicians (ministers, MPs and senators) are not on the list. Nor does the list include ministry workers; it is not yet known whether members of the government’s Crisis Management team or the National Security Council will be added. Meanwhile, a list of those already eligible for vaccines is being put together by health insurance companies, which will then be confirmed or modified by general practitioners. Vaccination should begin in the second half of October.

It is important to note, a ministry official stressed on Tuesday, the vaccine is not intended to prevent the spread of the swine flu virus in the country, but simply to lessen its overall impact, especially where it could prove deadly. So far, the Czech Republic has seen a fairly low number – 281 confirmed cases, many of which were milder in nature - but the country’s chief hygiene officer Michael Vít has made clear that the first wave is ending, with the autumn expected to see a rise in cases and individuals affected. He recommended that Czechs preventively get regular flu shots; as it stands only 800,000 get those each year although they can clearly be of benefit.