THE VACCINE against swine flu is now available for any Slovaks interested in being protected from the virus. The head of Slovakia's Public Health Authority Office, Ivan Rovný, announced that the vaccine against the pandemic novel influenza A (H1N1) became available to the general public on February 5 and appealed to Slovak citizens to get protected. He underscored that the swine flu pandemic is not a seasonal illness and gave his assurance that the vaccine is efficient and safe, the SITA newswire wrote.
The vaccines were first primarily intended for pregnant women, chronically sick people and those with high risks of complication and death after contracting this type of virus, as well as for health-care workers and groups of people who are vital for the smooth functioning of the country. After vaccinating these groups of citizens, the remaining vaccine is intended for the remainder of the population.
Slovakia acquired 1 million units of the vaccine Panenza from Sanofi Pasteur company, meaning that one-fifth of Slovakia’s population of 5.4 million has an opportunity to be vaccinated.
Concerns about side effects, the drop in the incidence of swine flu during the Christmas season, and the delayed order for the vaccine decreased the interest of Slovaks in getting vaccinated. The Slovak government approved the purchase of the vaccine only in mid December. In late January the Health Ministry said that only around 6 percent of Slovakia’s health-care workers had been vaccinated against the novel flu, according to the ministry’s website.
Rovný said the vaccine is effective and safe.
“The side effects of the Panenza vaccine are comparable with the side effects of seasonal flu vaccines,” Rovný said. “According to a report by the European Medicines Agency, no negative side effects of the vaccine have been reported so far.”
Since monitoring of the occurrence of the pandemic flu started in May 2009, labs have confirmed 1, 179 cases of swine flu in Slovakia. Epidemiologists estimate that as many as 100,000-150,000 people may have contracted swine flu in Slovakia so far. Like seasonal flu, this pandemic flu also strikes across the entire population.
But while seasonal flu causes serious problems usually only to older people, the pandemic flu causes the most serious complications to young people. Of the 49 people who contracted this flu and died in Slovakia, as many as 45 of them were in a productive age group, SITA wrote.
22. Feb 2010 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff