BRUSSELS The European Commission said on Tuesday it has authorized two H1N1 swine flu vaccines for use in the European Economic Area this year, paving the way for mass vaccinations before the start of the flu season.
Governments and drugmakers have been scrambling for vaccines to combat the new H1N1 flu strain before a feared second wave of infection hits the northern hemisphere in the winter.
The Commission's approval means the vaccines will shortly be available in the 27 EU countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
"That should ensure that sufficient vaccines will be available before the start of the flu season and will reduce the risks for illnesses and deaths for European citizens," the Commission said in a statement.
The European Medicines Agency (EMEA) last week recommended the vaccines from GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis, called Pandemrix and Focetria.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee and Antonia van de Velde; Editing by David Cowell)