August 30, 2009

S. Korea beefs up flu vaccine availability

South Korea is preparing to inoculate about 9.1 million of the people at greatest risk of contracting Influenza A, the government said Sunday.

Yonhap New Agency reported medical and quarantine personnel, school children, military personnel, senior citizens, pregnant women and children under age 5 will be eligible for free vaccinations. Inoculation will be available to others for $8.03 per shot.

The Grand National Party said there will be earlier testing and approval of new vaccines to serve the population in November instead of January, as previously announced.

A local pharmaceuticals company is trying to produce enough Influenza A vaccine for about 6 million people this year by using adjuvants, agents that augment other drugs and vaccines, the news service reported.

With this additional push, the total number of South Koreans who can be vaccinated this year may be as many as 11 million, the news service said.

If permission is granted by the end of November as we expect, Green Cross will be able to produce up to 12 million doses of the Influenza A vaccine by the end of the year, the company's president, Huh Jae-hoe, said.

That would the additional 6 million people can be inoculated, as each person requires 2 doses, the news service reported.