Free swine flu vaccine on the way.


Government officials have announced plans for a mass-immunisation programme against the pandemic swine flu strain, H1N1. In a press conference at the end of October, officials from the Federal Department of Health confirmed that two Swissmedic-approved vaccines--produced by pharmaceutical giants, GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis--should be available for the first immunisations to take place in mid-November.

Initially, the vaccine will be available to high-risk groups, including health professionals, pregnant women and adults suffering from certain health conditions; however with 13 million vaccines due for delivery before the end of 2009, it will not be long before the programme is extended to the wider population. Vaccination will be on a voluntary-basis and free of charge: the costs will be shared between health insurance providers, as well as federal and cantonal authorities.

Despite the advanced preparations, opinion remains divided on mass immunisation. Some doctors claim the vaccines have not been sufficiently tested.

"It was a vaccine that was produced very quickly. We do not know its effectiveness [or] how innocuous it is," Yverdon-les-Bains family doctor and Infovaccine member, Dr. Pascal Buchler, told online news source swissinfo...

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