Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Babies, toddlers may get vaccine shots after trials

China hopes to be among the first countries ready with an A/H1N1 vaccination program for babies and children aged 6 months to 3 years.

The vaccine, which has already been administered voluntarily to around 17 million people in China, is currently unavailable to the under-3s on safety grounds.

But Beijing says it is now ready to start testing its home-grown vaccination on the under-3s in a bid to protect as many people as possible at a time when the pandemic is picking up steam and sickening more and more people nationwide.

Last week alone, the virus killed 28 people across the country.

Trials on babies and children could begin within the week, said Liang Xiaofeng, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s immunization center.

"Experts are scheduled to meet on Thursday (today) to discuss details, such as the dosage and frequency of jabs that would provide children with full immunity against the virus," he told China Daily yesterday.

About 13,000 volunteers took part in the initial trial of the vaccine several months ago but Liang said trials before rolling out the vaccine to the under-3s would likely be on a smaller scale.

The H1N1 vaccination program began in late September. Out of the millions vaccinated so far, two people reportedly died after receiving shots. The government said the deaths were coincidental and not linked to the vaccine.

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