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China to begin H1N1 vaccination
By Shan Juan (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-09-08 07:36

China will soon vaccinate its citizens against the H1N1 flu as the potentially deadly disease has entered the peak season with rising community outbreaks and severe cases.

Detailed inoculation plans have not yet been released but safety should always be the top concern, according to the State Council executive meeting presided by Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday.

As the total cases reached 5,592 yesterday afternoon on the mainland, the virus has been detected in all 31 provinces and autonomous regions including remote western Xinjiang, Ningxia and Tibet, which reported its first cases over the weekend.

The virus will spread more quickly from cities to countryside and sicken more people at the community level, said Zeng Guang, a senior epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The week-long national holiday is nearing, when an estimated 200 million Chinese will be on the move. Railway and aviation departments are being ordered to devise contingency plans in case of outbreaks.

China to begin H1N1 vaccination

Wen also urged health departments to beef up prevention and control efforts for the 60th National Day Celebration.

About 100,000 student volunteers in Beijing selected to participate in the celebration will be among the first group to be vaccinated against the H1N1 flu. These inoculations are part of the precautionary measures mandated by the Beijing Health Bureau to make sure the event, involving more than 200,000 people, remains free from the pandemic, said Ma Yanming, spokesman for the bureau.

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Meanwhile, universities and schools in Beijing are gearing up for the inoculation.

Wang Ying, who heads the hospital at the University of International Business and Economics, said the staff is ready for the vaccination work at the university.

Furthermore, a slew of measures like daily temperature check-ups and distributing brochures with epidemic prevention and control information have been carried out on the campus. The goal is to keep the epidemic from spreading among the faculty and students, particularly the 1,600 who have been trained since early July in preparation for marching in the parade during the celebration.

"They will probably get the shot first within the month," she told China Daily yesterday. The exact date of the inoculation will be determined by local authorities, she said.

Xia Yunhan, 20, a sophomore with the Beijing Xinyuanming Vocational College, said she would like to have the shot when it is ready. She's one of 300 from the college who will be in the parade.

The first 2 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine of a 5-million order issued by the government will be ready during September, according to Liu Peicheng, media relations director with the Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech Ltd, one of the 10 designated H1N1 vaccine producers in the country.

Central government officials vowed to prepare vaccines for 5 percent of the entire population by the year's end.