Australians urged to get swine flu vaccine

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon has urged all those who want the jab to contact their doctors from next Wednesday to access the vaccine.

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“We expect to get 21 million doses of the vaccine provided by January next year,” Ms Roxon told reporters.

“We are urging all Australians particularly who are aged 10 and over to consider being vaccinated,” she said.

Ms Roxon said people with asthma, diabetes, cancer, pregnant women and parents or carers of infants should consider accessing the vaccine early.

Trials are under way to ensure the vaccine is safe in children. The paediatric jab is expected to be available after trials are completed and approved by the Therapeutic Goods Association.

Ms Roxon denied the vaccine had arrived too late.

Protection against future ‘waves’ of virus

She said there had been significant swine flu outbreaks in Europe and the US and the vaccine could help prevent the spread of swine flu via international travellers.

Although the vaccine comes at the end of the winter flu season in Australia, chief medical officer Jim Bishop said it would protect against the flu spreading from the northern hemisphere.

“The amount of doses that we have will be sufficient to protect the population against future waves of this virus,” he told reporters.

He said the northern hemisphere was now entering winter and there were already signs of increased infections in the United States and Europe.

“We’d expect that to seed back into this country,” he said.

The $100 million program to develop a swine flu vaccine in Australia has produced a vaccine which its maker says will have a 95 per cent success rate in adults.

To date, 177 Australians and about 3,500 people worldwide with swine flu have died.

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