Monday, November 29, 1999

Swine flu fears: Several Union Ministers take new vaccine

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New Delhi, Jun 16 (PTI) Not taking any chance after the spurt in swine flu cases with the onset of monsoon, quite a few ministers in the UPA Government have protected themselves against the disease with the newly-unveiled indigenous vaccine. Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal, Rural Development Minister C P Joshi, Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Minister of State for Health S Gandhiselvam were among those who have taken the vaccine, officials said. The Ministers were prodded on at a meeting of the Mission Steering Committee of the National Rural Health Mission yesterday by Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who was the second person in the country to take the vaccine. However, Minister of State for Health Dinesh Trivedi and Health Secretary Sujatha Rao excused themselves from taking the vaccine. Rao later said it was her fear of needles which made her take the decision of not getting immunised then. In the first week of this month, India unveiled its first indigenous vaccine against the dreaded swine flu which claimed over 18,000 lives globally and more than 1,000 in the country. The country was earlier importing the vaccine from French company Sanofi Pasteurs for only health workers and other high-risk people. The vaccine, produced by Zydus Cadilla, was launched by Azad, who took one of the first shots. It has been clinically tested on 269 people. Around 4.5 lakh doses are available in the market in the first batch. PTI SPC.

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