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Chinese people far from overreaction to flu and cold(2)

(China Daily)

10:55, January 29, 2013

(File Photo)


Vaccination is the most effective means of prevention, said Shu. However, a series of misunderstandings have resulted in less than 2 percent of the Chinese population receiving an annual flu shot.

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Wang Quanyi said the virus will continue to spread because too few people are willing to be vaccinated. "It is so hard to talk people into taking flu shots," he said. "People refuse, even if the healthcare workers knock on their doors and offered free vaccine."

"Many people simply don't bother to get vaccinated because they don't take flu seriously," said Shu.

Meanwhile, others fear potential adverse reactions.

In 2009, around 800 children, mainly in Sweden but also in other parts of Europe, developed narcolepsy, a neurological disorder, after being vaccinated with the Pandemrix H1N1 swine flu vaccine made by the drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, according to reports by Reuters.

"So far, a link between the two cannot be substantiated and that shouldn't prevent people from taking the flu shot for proven protection," He noted.

Under the nation's vaccination programs, people have to pay for flu shots.

"A free nationwide service would help boost the coverage quite a lot," He said.

In 2007 in Beijing, the local government began a program to vaccinate students and the elderly free of charge every year.

Since then, an average 1.7 million from those groups in the capital have received the shot during the flu season, said He.

The figure before that fluctuated quite a lot, from 1 million to 1.8 million, "which affected a sustainable flu intervention effort on the whole", he said, stressing "the money is worth paying."

Every yuan the government spends on vaccination may help save 10 yuan ($1.60) in flu-related medical expenditure, said He, citing a study conducted in 2008.

The first groups to receive the shots should include children aged between 6 months and 5 years, people aged 60 and older, sufferers of chronic diseases, pregnant women, medical and kindergarten workers, according to the China CDC's recommendations.

These groups totaled 570 million on the Chinese mainland, around 43 percent of the population, according to Feng Luzhao, a researcher with the China CDC's infectious disease prevention and control department.

A 2009 survey conducted by the China CDC showed vaccination coverage in areas of relative wealth is higher than in underprivileged regions.

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