October 21, 2009 / 11:50 AM / 10 years ago

FACTBOX-Swine flu vaccination gets underway in Europe

Oct 21 (Reuters) - European governments are starting to roll out mass vaccination programmes against H1N1 swine flu, with Britain the latest country to begin immunisation on Wednesday.

The European Medicines Agency has approved three H1N1 vaccines — GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK.L) Pandemrix, Novartis’s NOVN.VX Focetria and Baxter International’s (BAX.N) Celvapan — and others may yet be added to this list.

There have been a total of 230 deaths linked to H1N1 in Europe since April, with nearly half of them occurring in Britain, according to the Stockholm-based European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Outside Europe, vaccination programmes are also underway in various countries, including the United States, China and Australia.

Here is a snapshot of vaccination plans in selected European countries:

BRITAIN

Nationwide vaccination programme launched on Oct. 21, starting with front-line health workers and hospital patients deemed to be at high risk. Family doctors will start immunising patients in priority groups from Oct. 26.

FRANCE

Vaccinations began on Oct. 20 for hospital staff. Shots will be offered to the general population starting from the first week in November.

GERMANY

Regional states will start a programme of vaccination on Oct. 26. The initial focus will be on healthcare workers, police and fire-fighters, plus people in at-risk groups and pregnant women.

ITALY

Doctors began H1N1 vaccinations on Oct. 14.

SWEDEN

First vaccinations were carried out on Oct. 12.

SPAIN

Vaccinations are expected to start in the second half of November.

NETHERLANDS

Officials expect to start vaccination of at-risk groups in the week starting Nov. 9.

IRELAND

A national vaccination programme will begin on Nov. 2.

SWITZERLAND

H1N1 vaccines still need to be approved by the country’s own regulatory agency and immunisation is not expected to start until around the end of this month or the start of November.

Source: National health authorities (Reporting by Ben Hirschler and Reuters bureaus; editing by Karen Foster)

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