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France to spend one billion euros on flu vaccine

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-07-16

France's health minister Roselyne Bachelot has anounced that the government will spend one billion euros on ninety-four million doses of the vaccine to combat the influenza A (H1N1) virus.

The H1N1 virus has caused the deaths of more than 400 people worldwide and the number of cases is nearing 100,000.

In France, the government has announced a mass programme of vaccinations - 94 million doses of the vaccine to the tune of one billion euros. It also has an option on a further 44 million doses.

France's Health Minister, Roselyne Bachelot, says it is money well spent: "You've got to look at the loss to the economy in terms of time off work and sick leave. There are statistics showing that a flu epidemic could cost billions in lost earnings.
Investing in health is always a good investment."

France hopes to vaccinate the whole country directly after the summer holidays, but the goal is now for vaccinations to take between this October and January next year.  The delay is partly due to the fact that producing the vaccine involves growing the virus on eggs.

Patrick Berche, head of microbiology at the Necker hospital, said, "It's possibly going to be a question of arriving after the damage has been done in terms of mass vaccination and avoiding an epidemic that hits hundreds of thousands of
people in the country."

The French government will decide in September which parts of the population will be vaccinated first. It's likely the priority will go to pregnant women and children under 18.

Date created : 2009-07-16