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DOH: Health workers to get first batch of A(H1N1) vaccines

July 29, 2009 10:31am
UP CLOSE. A microscopic image of the influenza A(H1N1) virus. AP
Doctors and other health care workers would be the first recipients of some 100,000 vaccines against the deadly A(H1N1) virus that the Philippine government ordered from the World Health Organization, the Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said doctors, nurses and health care professionals at the frontline of treating patients with A(H1N1) would be the first recipients of the vaccine that is expected to come out in October. [See: US: 160M doses of swine flu vaccine due in Oct]

The DOH had earlier identified high-risk individuals as patients with preexisting diseases like diabetes, heart and renal diseases, immmunocompromised state, the pregnant, the very young and the elderly and those with infections like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

So far, all recorded deaths related to A(H1N1) in the country were patients who had existing medical conditions.

Duque reassured the public however, that the Philippines would not be muscled out by wealthier countries in getting the vaccines. Pharmaceutical companies also agreed to give the WHO 10 percent of their products.

"The WHO will draw up a formula of how much to allocate to each country. We are sure to get our share because we have A(H1N1) cases," he said in Filipino over a dwIZ radio interview.

As of early July, more than 2,688 cases of A(H1N1) had been recorded in the country with a 95 percent rate of recovery. Since July 9, the DOH has stopped daily updates on the cases of A(H1N1) in the country and instead focused its resources on mitigating the spread of the disease.

The scare over A(H1N1) had prompted some traders to cash in by selling vaccines that they claim to cure the disease.

Last weekend, the National Bureau of Investigation arrested a businesswoman in Laguna province for selling what she claimed to be A(H1N1) vaccines. [See: NBI seizes P4M worth of fake flu vaccines]

The vaccines are expected to be formally approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in October, even before studies required to prove how well it works are completed, the Associated Press reported. - GMANews.TV