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Elderly encouraged to get vaccinated against flu
(HK Edition)
Updated: 2009-10-06 06:46

TAIPEI: Senior citizens aged 75 and over were encouraged yesterday to go to be vaccinated against seasonal influenza and streptococcus pneumonia - a frequent killer of the elderly.

The flu season once again is approaching. Lin Hung-chuan, a specialist in lung disease and diseases of the immune system at Chang-Gung Memorial Hospital (CGMH) issued the advice after an island-wide inoculation program against seasonal flu began October 1.

The elderly are also entitled to free pneumonia inoculations, offered by the Wang Chan-yang social welfare and charity foundation run by the Formosa Plastics Group, which owns CGMH.

Lin said that while seasonal flu is not particularly dangerous in itself, it can cause complications such as pneumonia, which can be fatal.

Streptococcus pneumonia is the most frequently seen pneumonia killer, Lin continued, pointing out that the fatality rate among the elderly infected by the virulent bacteria is 42.5 percent.

Moreover, the chance of being attacked by the bacteria again is five times higher than that of contracting the disease for the first time, he said.

It was streptococcus pneumonia that prompted the late founder of the Formosa Plastics Group, Wang Yung-ching, to donate 578,000 doses of streptococcus pneumonia vaccine in 2007 for people over 75 after he caught the disease but recovered, according to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chou Chih-hao.

The free vaccination was designed to be carried out over three years starting from 2007, and there are still about 40,000 doses left for this year, Chou said, revealing that Wang's foundation has also donated another 57,000 doses to increase the stock for this year.

According to CDC statistics, Taiwan has a population of 1.01 million people aged 75 and over, 470,000 of whom have not yet been inoculated with the pneumonia vaccine, which offers protection for five years.

Meanwhile, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) reported that day that one more patient, aged 12, had been hospitalized with severe influenza A(H1N1) symptoms in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total hospitalization cases to 320 since the outbreak began.

Of that number, 21 had died, 28 were still being treated in local hospitals, while the other 270 had been discharged after making complete recoveries.

China Daily/CNA

(HK Edition 10/06/2009 page2)