Swine flu vaccinations underway in Sweden

Swine flu vaccinations underway in Sweden
The largest vaccination programme in Swedish history got underway on Monday as health workers in the south of the country received the first shots to protect against the swine flu.

Hospital workers lined up at Malmö University Hospital to be among the first people in Sweden to receive vaccinations against the AH1H1 virus.

“The initial rush hasn’t been that big, as many didn’t know it was going to start today already. But from Tuesday, we’re expecting there will be a steady flow of people who will want to be vaccinated,” infectious diseases specialist Sven Haidel, head of vaccination efforts in Skåne County, told the TT news agency.

The swine flu vaccine arrived in the area on Monday morning before being distributed in refrigerated trucks to ten nearby hospitals.

Health authorities in a number of other Swedish counties told TT that they expect to start their own vaccination programmes later in the week, while others won’t commence for a few more weeks.

At the university hospital in Malmö, a staff cafeteria was converted into a vaccination centre where healthcare personnel from the regional and local level were among the first to be vaccinated on Monday.

“We calculate we can vaccinate 1,000 people every day,” said hospital spokesperson Hans-Göran Boklund.

While there is no nationwide overview of Sweden’s vaccination schedule, the primary campaign starts on Monday of next week, although a number of clinics are expected to start vaccinating people as soon as they receive the vaccine, according to infectious diseases doctor Ann Söderström.

The County Council in Västernorrland in northern Sweden plans to start vaccinating people starting on Thursday of this week.

“We’ve planned and prepared for a long time, so we just need to kick things off,” said head doctor Markus Kallioinen.

Health authorities in Sörmland will begin injecting people on Tuesday of this week.

So far, most county health authorities haven’t noticed a surge in demand from the public for vaccination against the swine flu.

“You can’t really compare with how it was a month ago when we had a few fatalities in Sweden. Then the pressure was huge and we received a lot of phone calls. But now it’s pretty relaxed,” said Uppsala County spokesperson Jessica Elgenstierna to TT.

The scene in Västerbotten in northern Sweden is also far from hectic, despite reports last week of a swine flu outbreak at a school in Skellefteå.

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