* Vaccination of general population starts next week
* Second vaccine for pregnant women on order
(Adds details, comments from government)
OTTAWA Oct 21 Canada will be ready to begin
H1N1 flu vaccinations next week after the Canadian government
approved on Wednesday a H1N1 vaccine made by GlaxoSmithKline
Plc (GSK.L) that will be used for most of the population,
federal health officials said.
Canada has ordered 50.4 million doses from the company and
at least 2 million have already been sent around the country,
but regulatory approval was required before they could be
The federal government had initially slated the first week
of November for the start of the vaccinations, but provincial
governments, which are responsible for health care in Canada,
will now be able to start the country's largest ever
immunization effort whenever they are ready.
"It's our best defence against being infected by this virus
and spreading it to others," Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada's
chief public health officer, told a news conference in Ottawa.
The vaccine, called Arepanrix, should be in use next week,
he said, with millions more doses sent weekly to provincial
governments during the vaccination period. It contains
adjuvant, which is a natural product that allows for more
effective use of vaccine supplies.
The government in British Columbia, where most of Canada's
recent flu outbreak has emerged, said it would begin
vaccinations on Monday.
The federal government has also ordered 1.8 million doses
of a second vaccine, without adjuvant, specifically for
pregnant women. It will be available in early November.
The Canadian government recommends that people at greatest
risk should get the vaccine first -- people under 65 with
chronic conditions, pregnant women, children six months to five
years old, people in remote communities, health care workers
and care providers of high-risk persons.
Health officials will largely trust those lining up first
for flu shots that they fit one of those criteria, Butler-Jones
The virus is different from seasonal flu virus in that it
has a strong effect on young people, he said. Teenagers
accounted for half of all flu deaths in the United States
recently, he said.
Vaccinations are already under way in various countries
including the United States, China, Australia. Britain began
immunization on Wednesday.
The H1N1 pandemic has killed 83 people in Canada and
hospitalized 1,500. Canada has a population of 33.7 million
Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said no decision has been
made on whether Canada will share surplus vaccine supplies with
(Reporting by Rod Nickel and Randall Palmer; editing by Peter