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Sweden finds funds for swine flu vaccinations

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Sweden finds funds for swine flu vaccinations
14:42 CEST+02:00
The Swedish government announced on Tuesday that one billion kronor ($142 million) has been set aside to help fund the the vaccination of the entire population against swine flu.

"The government will earmark one billion kronor for the costs incurred by county councils linked to the pandemic," Health Minister Maria Larsson said in a statement.

County councils are in charge of healthcare in Sweden and will be tasked with carrying out and paying for the mass vaccination.

Sweden has signed an agreement with British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline for the delivery of 18 million doses of the vaccine when it is ready, enough to cover its population of some 9.3 million people.

Two doses of the vaccine are needed to ensure protection from the A(H1N1) virus.

Sweden's mass vaccination programme will be on a voluntary basis, though authorities hope to vaccinate as many people as possible. Among those who will be prioritised are those who suffer from respiratory conditions, diabetes, heart conditions and pregnant women.

According to the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL), the total cost of the vaccination programme is expected to be around 2.0 to 2.5 billion kronor, including 1.2 to 1.3 billion for the cost of the vaccine alone.

The association has recommended that the vaccination be offered free of charge to residents of Sweden.

The government hopes to begin vaccinations in late September or early October and complete the procedure by early 2010.

Vaccines against swine flu are not yet available on the market as they are still undergoing clinical trials.

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