It killed 1,500 people across the country and 95 in Delhi last year.
On Thursday, Union Minister of Health Ghulam Nabi Azad took a shot of the vaccine and officially introduced Vaxiflu-S, the country’s first indigenous vaccine to counter influenza A H1N1, also known as swine flu.
Pankaj R. Patel, chairperson and managing director of Cadila Healthcare, also took the vaccine shot during its launch and joined 269 people on who the vaccine was tested before being released.
“If there still are any doubts regarding the safety of this vaccine, it must now be put to rest,” said the minister, offering his left arm to the doctor to get his shot.
The vaccine, priced at Rs 350 each, provides immunity for one year, but can be used only by people in the age group of 18 to 60 years. It will be available in all chemist shops but one would need to produce a registered doctor’s prescription to the chemist.
Those who can’t be given the vaccine shots include children, elderly and pregnant women.
“The vaccine will be available in markets across the country from Friday on producing a valid prescription,” said Patel.
So far vaccines were imported and were exorbitantly priced — the imported H1N1 vaccine cost anywhere between Rs 900 and Rs 1,000.
Three more companies — Bharat Biotech, Hyderabad, Panacea Biotec, New Delhi, and Serum Institute, Pune, — are also bringing out vaccines. Serum Institute is expected to come up with the vaccine by the end of this month.