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Just 19% take up swine flu jab

Posted by wicked blu Monday, September 6, 2010


Just 19 per cent of Australians took up the offer of a free vaccine to protect them against the swine flu.

There was enough of the vaccine to inoculate the entire population against the a(H1N1) virus.
But it is estimated about only four million people took up the offer.

This was "much lower than the implied 50 per cent target required to contain community transmission", according to a paper published online by the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) on Monday.

"Contributory factors may include the public's and vaccine providers' perceptions that pandemic influenza causes mild illness (or) negative media reports about vaccine safety and multi-dose vials."

Another factor could be the inoculation campaign fell outside of the pre-winter period when people typically turned their minds to getting a flu jab.

WA-based researchers assessed the number of pandemic influenza vaccinations administered from late September 2009 to late January this year.

It determined the vaccination rate in WA was "comparable to the national estimate of 19 per cent".

The researchers said the Australian government initially ordered 21 million doses of the vaccine, when it was thought two doses would be needed per person to provide complete protection.

However, testing showed one dose was sufficient and "thus, there was sufficient vaccine for the entire population and all Australians aged ten years and older were encouraged to be vaccinated."

The vaccine's roll out in WA "did not reach levels considered sufficient to interrupt community transmission", the paper said.

Another WA based study also published online by the MJA on Monday found pregnant women - who were identified as at particular risk of serious illness, even death, from the swine flu - also had a low take-up of the vaccine.

A study of almost 480 pregnant women who arrived at a Perth-based clinic in January this year found just 33 (6.9 per cent) had been vaccinated.

"The Australian Chief Medical Officer wrote to general practitioners in November 2009 emphasising the increased risk to pregnant women of severe pandemic influenza and the suitability of the H1N1-specific vaccine for use in pregnancy," the paper states.

It said uptake of the vaccine was "poor" and the reason given by more than 60 per cent of the women was "safety concerns".

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