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A pair of hands seen inserting a syringe into an ampule of the swine flu vaccine
Fewer Germans than expected are getting swine flu shotsImage: picture-alliance/ dpa

Swine flu

December 8, 2009

Six weeks after Germany began vaccinating against swine flu, only about five percent of the population has gotten the shots. The government might now donate or sell some of the vaccine.


Germany is considering donating or selling 2.2 million shots of swine-flu vaccine to other countries after fewer Germans than expected lined up for protection against the influenza.

The government had ordered 50 million doses earlier this year for its population of about 80 million at a time when it was thought that people would need two apiece.

It later became clear that one shot of the A(H1N1) influenza vaccine would be enough.

When the vaccine first arrived in November, millions of worried Germans queued up for hours for free jabs. Now, however, demand has dwindled and doctors must persuade skeptical Germans to roll up their sleeves for the shot.

Only about 5 million Germans vaccinated so far

Hartmut Schubert, a senior official at the Thuringia state Health Ministry, told the Westfalen Blatt newspaper that it makes sense to pass on the vaccine in the framework of development aid. He said the vaccines could be donated and that there had been requests from Afghanistan and Eastern European countries, including Ukraine. Selling the vaccine, Schubert added, was another possibility.

The federal states have made it clear they don't want to foot the cost of the superfluous vaccine alone, and are urging support from the government in Berlin. By the end of November, 9.6 million doses had been delivered to Germany; the shipments will add up to 50 million by the end of March.

Germany's Health Minister Philipp Roesler
Health Minister Roesler recommends getting a swine flu vaccinationImage: AP

German government urges vaccination

Despite the fact that the number of cases has declined, doctors forecast a resurgence of swine flu in 2010.

"There is no reason to suppose this virus has become any less dangerous," Federal Health Minister Philipp Roesler said on Monday following talks with national groups representing doctors and health insurers.

So far, 86 people have died in Germany of swine flu and about 190,000 have been confirmed infected. There can be a second wave, or even mutations of the virus, Christoph Fuchs, manager of the German Medical Association warned.

Experts have said that vaccinating 30 percent of a population is enough to let the spread of swine flu peter out.

Editor: Trinity Hartman

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