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Asia Will Experience H1N1 Vaccine Shortage, WHO Says

A spokesperson for the WHO said on Tuesday that Asia will not have enough H1N1 vaccines for swine flu when cold weather hits, Reuters reports.

Though China and Australia will soon begin H1N1 vaccine production, the doses will be reserved for the countries only, leaving the “rest of the region … unlikely to benefit,” the news service writes. Meanwhile, “[i]n Japan, the flu season has already arrived while its drug companies have not even started producing the new vaccine,” Reuters writes.

WHO spokesperson Peter Cordingley emphasized his concerns over the limited availability of H1N1 vaccines in developing countries. “They don’t have resources, they have populations that are at such high risk in cramped conditions in squatter villages, with no health services, no access to a doctor, lots of pregnant women, we are very worried about it.” The article examines the H1N1 vaccination arrangements made by the governments of China, Japan and Singapore as well as the still-to-be arranged H1N1 vaccine plans in Indonesia and Hong Kong (Lyn, 8/25).

Survey Finds Majority Of Health Workers In Hong Kong Say They Are Unwilling To Get H1N1 Vaccine

In related news, a British Medical Journal study polling 2,255 health workers in Hong Kong “found even during the height of global swine flu panic in May, less than half were willing to get vaccinated,” due to fears over the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, the Associated Press reports (Cheng, 8/25). The WHO has recommended that health care workers be among the first to receive the H1N1 vaccine, Bloomberg reports.

“Vaccinating health workers to protect essential health infrastructure is the cornerstone of virtually all international and national plans for coping with the H1N1 virus,” Agence France-Presse/Channel News Asia writes. “If doctors and nurses are sick as the pandemic peaks, it could wreak havoc on healthcare systems, experts warn” (8/26). The Telegraph examines the argument that health care workers should get the H1N1 vaccine in order to protect their patients (Devlin, 8/26).

H1N1 Reduces Numbers Participating In Umrah

IRIN examines how efforts to minimize the spread of H1N1 have reduced the number of Muslims taking part in the pilgrimage known as the Umrah – down 30 percent from average years. The article includes information on additional precautionary measures in place (8/26).

FDA Approves Emergency Use Of H1N1 Test For U.S. Troops

AP: “The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it has authorized the emergency use of a swine flu test for U.S. troops overseas, allowing the military to speed up diagnoses and treatment of a virus that could cause widespread infections again this fall.” Combat units in the Middle East and Navy ships are scheduled to receive the H1N1 tests next month (Simmons, 8/25).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.