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Government to vaccinate health workers against swine flu

Sun, Feb 15, 2015, 04:56 PM
New Delhi, Feb 15 , 2015: Concerned over the rising number of deaths due to swine flu across the country, the government has directed that health workers dealing with the disease be vaccinated. India has witnessed a manifold increase in deaths due to swine flu, also known as H1N1 virus, this year.

About 485 people have lost their lives across the country due to the disease till Feb 12, while 279 people lost their lives in this month alone.

"In review meetings, it was confirmed by experts that the strain which is causing the flu this time is the same one as in the 2009 outbreak, for which vaccines are available," Anshu Prakash, Joint Secretary in the health ministry, told IANS.

"Based on this fact, we have asked all health care institutions to vaccinate their staff dealing with swine flu patients," he said.

The health ministry would soon issue a detailed advisory and guideline to the states.

Anshu Prakash said that it would be the responsibility of the institutions to procure the vaccines as they are easily available in the market.

The H1N1 virus was called the swine flu virus because in 2009, after it first started surfacing globally among humans, it was found to be similar to a virus circulating in the respiratory tracts of pigs.

Randeep Guleria, an internal medicine expert at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), told IANS: "There is evidence in India as well as internationally to prove that health care workers are more affected by outbreaks like this kind of flu."

"A healthcare worker can infect not only his immediate family but also patients who have less immunity like those in the Intensive Care Units of hospitals," Guleria said.

The swine flu vaccine available in the market costs around Rs.500.

Of the total number of deaths, Rajasthan has recorded the highest at 130, closely followed by Gujarat at 117.

Both are among the worst hit states along with Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana and Delhi.

The number of deaths in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Telangana are 56, 51 and 45 respectively and six in Delhi.

While Delhi has recorded the second highest number of cases at 1,189, the number of deaths has been less as compared to other states, an official told IANS.

Guleria said this is a pointer to the fact that early intervention can save lives.

"People in Delhi might be more aware of the symptoms and that might have helped them get early treatment".

According to V.M. Katoch, secretary in the Department of Health Research, the spurt was due to the fact that more cases are being reported this time.
Agency: IANS
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