Country gears up for swine flu vaccination

KATHMANDU: The National Committee for Immunisation Practices (NCIP) is scheduling its first meeting this week for giving holistic information to authorities concerned about the swine flu vaccine that is entering the country shortly.

"The vaccine is entering the nation for the first time," said Dr Shyam Raj Upreti, chief of child health division under the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP).

He said that the study on the use of vaccine has almost been over and that they were holding a meeting to inform the stakeholders concerned within this week.

Upreti added that an intensive study should be done before the vaccination of the general public begins. Talking to The Himalayan Times, he informed that they had collected all the required data regarding the disease.

NICP is mostly responsible for recommending the government when it is faced with multiple options in adopting new vaccines. The committee consists of the professional experts. "NICP should give permission for practicing any new vaccine in the country," said Upereti, adding that they were going to recommend the government to distribute the vaccine as per the priority list.

Dr Shyam Sundar Mishra, coordinator of Avian Influenza Control Project, informed that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has assured them of providing the vaccine by the end of January or by the first week of February.

"We are on a follow-up and have sent our plans to the WHO," said Mishra. In the first phase WHO is sending about two per cent of the total allocated vaccine which is around five lakh and fifty thousand doses. They are sending vaccine to around ten per cent of the total population.

MoHP has also prioritised the group for receiving the vaccine. Health care workers and dependents, pregnancy, high -risk groups with co-morbid conditions, children less than five years old and elderly over 65 are identified as priority groups to receive the vaccine.