Public Health Ministry to provide free vaccines for flu prevention nationwide

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BANGKOK, May 26 – Thailand’s Public Health Ministry is to provide free vaccines for flu prevention nationwide, starting tomorrow.

Vaccinations will be to bolster immunity among two groups of people, or about 3.5 million persons, at risk of flu infection.

Hospitals under the ministry countrywide as well as other public and private hospitals under the government’s 30-baht health care scheme will join the programme.

Public Health Deputy Minister Cholanan Srikaew said this year the ministry and National Health Security Office (NHSO) will jointly offer free vaccination from May 27-31 for medical personnel and officials responsible for disposing of poultry as well as for the public who are over 65 years old, women over four months pregnant, children aged from six months to 12 years old, and patients of all ages with certain chronic diseases.

The vaccines against three strains of influenza, which are Type A (H1N1 and H3N2), and Type B, will offer protection for about one year.

According to statistics, the providing of such vaccines has helped cut the number of infections and deaths from over 115,000 patients and 126 deaths in 2010 to about 61,000 patients and 4 deaths in 2012 respectively.

For this year so far, the Epidemiology Bureau reported that there were around 18,000 patients infected with influenza with no fatalities.