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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Deputy Premier and Minister for Health
    The Honourable Paul Lucas

    SCHOOL SWINE FLU VACCINE PROGRAM SET TO ROLL OUT

    Deputy Premier and Minister for Health
    The Honourable Paul Lucas

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    SCHOOL SWINE FLU VACCINE PROGRAM SET TO ROLL OUT

    Queensland is set to roll out a programme of school vaccination clinics for school children, their families and the public, Deputy Premier and Minister for Health Paul Lucas announced today.

    The Panvax® H1N1 vaccine will be provided through clinics held in each Queensland State high school, through a collaborative effort between Queensland Health and Education Queensland.

    In September 2009 the vaccine was registered for use in people aged 10 years and over, and in December approval was extended to give the vaccine to everyone above the age of 6 months.

    This vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective in both adults and children.

    Mr Lucas said the clinics would operate on a Saturday or Sunday, with the vaccine to be available not only to all Queensland schoolchildren, but all members of their family and any other member of the public who wishes to be vaccinated for free.

    “As a parent I know there are some things we just can’t protect our kids from – no matter how hard we try,” Mr Lucas said.

    “”That’s why, where medical science means we can protect them, especially from things like preventable diseases, that we owe it to our kids to do so.

    “Through this initiative the Bligh Government is helping to ensure the swine flu vaccine is now even more accessible for Queensland children and their families.

    “This is in addition to the vaccine already being available through GP clinics and community health clinics.

    “Over 550,000 Queenslanders are now reported to have received the vaccine – around 13 per cent of the State’s population.

    “But that also means some 87 per cent of the State’s population has not.

    “With schools now returned for the year, there is a great opportunity to redouble our efforts to vaccinate both children and their families through this school-based clinic program,” he said.

    Parents of children in Queensland schools will soon receive a letter from the Chief Health Officer providing advice about the vaccination and giving details of the clinics that will be held in high schools in their area.

    Information on clinics will also be available from schools, childcare centres and the Queensland Health Call Centre, 13HEALTH, when details have been finalised.

    The first clinics will start from February 27 and will be completed by the end of Term 1.

    Mr Lucas said the swine flu pandemic had continued throughout the Northern Hemisphere, demonstrating Queenslanders could not become complacent about vaccination.

    “We know many countries in the northern hemisphere have suffered a second wave of the pandemic during the winter flu season and globally the World Health Organization has now reported nearly 15,000 deaths from this disease,” Mr Lucas said.

    “Their experience in terms of illnesses, hospitalisations and deaths has been similar to ours’ last year.

    “Expert advice from world and national health authorities is that a second wave of the pandemic is likely to occur in Australia, and that it will appear in April or May this year.

    “During the first wave of the pandemic last year, nearly 12,000 Queenslanders were confirmed with the disease, over 1,200 people were hospitalised and 163 were admitted to intensive care.

    “Sadly, 41 Queenslanders died, many of them in vulnerable groups but some 30 percent with no known risk factors.

    “Additionally, young children under 5 years of age had the highest rate of hospitalisation due to Pandemic (H1N1) influenza of all age groups.

    “The impact of a second wave can be greatly reduced if Queenslanders are vaccinated.

    “I urge all Queensland families to take advantage of this opportunity to get vaccinated,” he said.

    Ends.

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