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Swine flu vaccine expected to be rolled out -

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Swine flu vaccine expected to be rolled out

Carly Laird reported this story on Friday, September 11, 2009 12:50:00

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Australia's chief medical officer professor Jim Bishop says preliminary trial
results from a swine flu vaccine look promising.

The vaccine will now go through an approval process with the Therapeutic Goods Administration
before it's used on the most vulnerable groups of Australians.

So far there have been 169 swine flu related deaths in Australia since the pandemic began earlier
this year and there are currently 336 people in hospital with the virus.

Carly Laird reports.

CARLY LAIRD: Since the swine flu pandemic broke out in Mexico in April nearly 170 people in
Australia have died from this type of the virus.

Australia's chief medical officer professor Jim Bishop says it's good news that the rates of
infection are now slowing down.

JIM BISHOP: We're seeing that the intensity of the pandemic through Australia is lessening and
we're seeing less numbers now in hospital and in intensive care than we did see.

CARLY LAIRD: The preliminary results from two trials of a swine flu vaccine that were released
today show that one dose should be enough to immunise adults against the virus.

JIM BISHOP: So these two trials can be taken together with some verbal information we've got from
NIH trials, which also suggest one does may be sufficient in adults. And the Chinese have also
reported that one dose of their vaccine will be sufficient in adults.

CARLY LAIRD: But he says children may need more than that.

JIM BISHOP: Now I'd stress that we don't have information on children and the history would tell us
that often children with these flu vaccines might require two doses.

CARLY LAIRD: Alan Hampson is the chair of the Australia Influenza Specialist Group. He agrees that
this is good news.

ALAN HAMPSON: This has shown surprisingly good responses seeing that it's a new virus where
everybody expected that we might have to go to a two dose schedule to get responses.

CARLY LAIRD: But only 95 per cent of people responded positively. Is that enough?

ALAN HAMPSON: That's well within the normal limits for release of influenza vaccines; in fact we
often see inferior responses to that.

CARLY LAIRD: The chief medical officer professor Jim Bishop says the next step before the rollout
of the vaccine will be approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. He says he doesn't know
how long that process will take but Alan Hampson says it could be just a matter of weeks.

ALAN HAMPSON: Look is has to go through all the normal processes of checking all the data that
relates to the batches of vaccine and the standardisation of the vaccine, the testing that's been
done for safety etc. So it may take another couple of weeks or so. It may even take longer. But
certainly I'm sure that they will be giving it their immediate attention.

CARLY LAIRD: Professor Bishop says it's important to get a quick rollout of the vaccine even though
the Australian flu season is coming to an end.

JIM BISHOP: It may come back next flu season. On the other hand it could come back at any stage
through our summer and this is what's happened in the UK. And also in the US we've seen it run-on
through their summer.

It may also come back at any point in a more virulent form and we've been talking about that from
the beginning. We don't know whether that will occur and we certainly hope it won't.

But these are the contingencies that we must now plan for and this is the reason we think that a
vaccination program, when we're ready, is the right time to roll it out, not just for next flu
season.

CARLY LAIRD: Once it's approved the vaccine will first be offered to those most at risk.

JIM BISHOP: The vaccine should go to the most vulnerable, in other words the people most likely to
end up in hospital or in intensive care. And these are the people with chronic underlying diseases,
pregnant women. Also a higher proportion of chronic disease occurs in our Indigenous populations so
Indigenous Australians would be offered the vaccine and also children in special schools.

Healthcare workers are important because of the degree of exposure that they have to these viruses.

CARLY LAIRD: Last month the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases raised concerns about the
risk of infections when using multi-dose vials in administering the vaccine but professor Bishop
today said that Australia will be using multi-dose vials in line with worldwide regulations.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Carly Laird with that report.