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Take that, you swine! -

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ASHLEY HALL: A mass immunisation program with a vaccine for swine flu will begin in Australia next
week.

The Federal Government has ordered 21 million doses of the vaccine. The Therapeutic Goods
Administration has ruled that only a single jab will be enough to give immunity and therefore there
are enough doses to cover the entire population.

The vaccine will be provided in multi dose re-usable vials, raising concerns that doctors may
accidentally spread blood borne diseases.

Alison Caldwell reports.

ALISON CALDWELL: Some would say better late than never. Australia's new swine flu vaccine will be
ready to go from next week, nearly two months after it was first promised before winter started.

The Federal Government is recommending all Australians be vaccinated against swine flu when a mass
immunisation program begins next week.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon:

NICOLA ROXON: The World Health Organization says it's the best way to protect against the disease.
All of the advisory bodies have signed off on the use of multi-dose vials.

Let's be honest here. We don't know where this disease in the future will go. We are erring on the
side of caution for a disease that has now already contributed to the death of 177 Australians.

ALISON CALDWELL: The free swine flu vaccine will be available at GP clinics and hospitals for
people aged 10 and over.

The Health Minister says people with chronic diseases like asthma and diabetes should make sure
they get the vaccine quickly.

NICOLA ROXON: We are trying to particularly urge those who are vulnerable to prioritise going to
see their GP to get this vaccine and ensure that they get the extra protection that it provides.

ALISON CALDWELL: While the TGA has ruled the vaccine is ready to go, some doctors aren't convinced.

A key concern lies with the multi dose re-usable vials and the potential for the accidental spread
of blood borne diseases.

A doctor calling himself Ian called into ABC local radio in Melbourne this morning while the Health
Minister was being interviewed.

IAN: We've had well publicised episodes of cross-infection using multi dose vials and I would have
thought single dose vials would have been much more sensible.

Was it purely a cost saving issue that you use multi dose vials?

NICOLA ROXON: No, look it wasn't. It was actually the agreed process with every chief health
officer across the country.

I think that we need to put to rest this issue of the history about cross infection. This is from
incidences that mostly were before I was even born.

We have of course made enormous advances in terms of infection control and the process for using
multi dose vials.

PETER COLLIGNON: We are now going to have the biggest mass vaccination program in Australia but in
ways that I don't believe are as safe as they could be and doing it quicker than we need to.

ALISON CALDWELL: Peter Collignon is professor of infectious diseases and microbiology at the ANU.
He says the immunisation program is premature.

PETER COLLIGNON: In the mid-1970s there was also a worry about swine flu after it went to an army
camp and 40 million Americans were vaccinated.

Now the virus never spread to the population but about one in 100,000 got a rare form of paralysis
called Guillain-Barre and there were about 25 deaths. So in that particular instance we caused more
harm with the vaccine than we did good.

NICOLA ROXON: Of course it will need to be handled carefully but the protection is to use a single
needle for the draw down of every dose and then a separate single needle for actually sticking into
the person's arm and that will ensure that the risk is absolutely minimal.

ALISON CALDWELL: The Health Minister says patients should consult with their doctor before they are
vaccinated.

ASHLEY HALL: Alison Caldwell.