The Spanish Department of Health increases vaccine reserves against swine flu to cover 60% of the population
Following a meeting with regional health authorities the Minister for Health, Trinidad Jiménez, has announced that the Department of Health will increase its reserves of the vaccine against the H1N1 virus (swine flu) to cover 60% of the population – previously it was forecast that the government would only stock enough vaccine to cover 40% of the population.
Groups considered to be at high risk have been widened to include pregnant women, the chronically ill, people working for the National Health Service and personnel who work in essential services such as the police, civil guards and firemen. This accounts for around 15-20% of the population but the department of health has decided to create an additional reserve of the vaccine which would cover up to 60% of the population.
Trinidad Jiménez said that the government had all the vaccines it needed and said that the vaccine would be available from pharmacies by the end of December.
In addition she also announced that the start of the school term would not be delayed because there were no clinical reasons to do so. Amongst some of the agreements reached by the Minister with regional health authorities is that to exclude children at risk because scientific evidence indicates that there is a higher incidence of swine flu in young adults rather than children.
Therefore children under 14 years old will not receive the vaccine against swine flu in the autumn except for children over 6 months old who suffer from some previous health condition in addition to the chronically ill, health workers and pregnant women.
The Ministry of Health has also announced that it will make the vaccine against seasonal flu available from 15th September onwards.
A list of chronic diseases will also be drawn up by experts commissioned by the Public Health system to coincide with the recommendations by the EU. Nevertheless, vaccination will not take place until the European Medicine Agency (EMEA) announces that the vaccine is ready for use which means that there is still time to make amendments to the strategy for vaccination.
Jiménez said that the rate of incidence of the H1N1 virus last week was 41 cases per 100,000 inhabitants which means that the spread of the virus remains ‘stable’. She also added that from now on that the Ministry for Health would give weekly bulletins to announce the incidence of swine flu and any deaths caused by the disease. She also said that pharmacies would be able to hand out Tamiflu when a higher incidence of the spread of the virus occurred – possibly in October or November.
Jiménez has called for calm and reminded people that the WHO recommends that people carry out their daily routines as usual.