Australia begins vaccinations

Australia's campaign will start with those most at risk in the pandemic, including health care workers, pregnant women and the chronically ill.

The federal government has ordered 21 million doses of the vaccine developed by Melbourne-based CSL Ltd.

A total of 5.5 million doses have been delivered across the country, enough to vaccinate 30 per cent of the population, Health Minister Nicola Roxon said. Two million doses each month will be made available until January.

Ms Roxon dismissed concerns about the vaccine's safety but said some people could have minor side effects, including mild nausea.

'I am very satisfied ... this vaccine is strong and effective,' Ms Roxon said. 'It is far safer to get this than it is to get swine flu.'

The first injections will be given to those most at risk from swine flu, including the chronically ill, the obese and indigenous people in remote communities, said Robert Booy, head of clinical research at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance.

As of Wednesday, 180 Australians had died from swine flu. More than 4,700 people have been hospitalised.

Children under 10 cannot yet be vaccinated, but pediatric trials of the vaccine continue. -- AP


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