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All Beijingers to get H1N1 vaccination
By Shan Juan (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-11-07 09:37

Beijing is gearing up for an extended H1N1 vaccination program that will be open to everyone with a Beijing hukou.

The roll-out will begin on Nov 16, health officials said on Friday.

The announcement means the capital is the first city in China with plans to inoculate all of its registered permanent residents, some 12 million people.

The 12 million is about 20 percent of China's target for total inoculations nationwide by the end of the year.

As of yesterday, Beijing had vaccinated 440,000 residents. Most of those were students and people with key public service jobs.

But interest in the inoculation has varied.

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A medical worker surnamed Liu with the Beijing Beanstalk International Bilingual School told China Daily that less than 20 percent of students there had signed up for the injection. The school has more than 300 elementary and secondary school students from 20 countries worldwide.

"Many of their parents don't trust the quality of the Chinese-made vaccines," she said.

Zhao Tao, director of the emergency response office under the Beijing Health Bureau said the vaccine was tried and tested and had proven effective. So far, the H1N1 vaccination program nationwide has reached more than 5 million.

"Anyway, we'll respect their choice," Zhao stressed.

During the extended vaccination program, some 402 clinics will be opened across the city on Nov 16. People will be able get their free shots until Dec 13.

Currently, the injections will only be available to people younger than 60.

Non-Beijiners living temporarily in the city might also be able to get the shot if they work in important public service departments in the city, Zhao added.

In addition to the 12 million official residents, there are around 5 million people in Beijing who do not have a hukou. For them, the chance of receiving the vaccine is slim. The pandemic has sickened about 52,000 on the Chinese mainland, killing 16.

The ministry announced yesterday a change in the way it will record H1N1 deaths.

Under the new rules, people who appear to be cured of H1N1 but who die of preexisting conditions and of mixed flu virus infections, including the H1N1 strain, will be counted as H1N1 deaths.

"It's in line with international practice and is more accurate in reflecting the pandemic situation here in China," said Feng Zijian, director of the emergency response department at the Chinese Centers of Disease Prevention and Control.