Worried that the H1N1 vaccines will go waste, the state government is now offering to inoculate all healthcare workers, even those who don’t come in contact with swine flu patients.
Only 10 per cent (3,400) of the 34,000 H1N1 vaccines the state had received from the centre in May have been utilised so far. The vaccines have an expiry date of October 2010.
The vaccine was only offered for doctors treating swine flu patients in the first phase and later extended to all doctors and staff of hospitals and dispensaries handling H1N1 patients. Medical staff was reluctant to take the vaccine fearing side-effects and doubted its efficacy. “We have not completed the first phase of immunisation but since too many vaccines are lying unutilised we have moved into the second and third phase,” said Dr VM Kuklarni, who is in charge of H1N1 immunisation in the state.
Dr Kulkarni said that there had been a rise in demand for the vaccine. “We have used only 2,212 vaccines in the first 45 days. The count went up by 1,200 in the last 10 days,” he said adding that some of the misconceptions about the vaccine had probably been cleared.
The BMC issued a circular to all medical colleges, peripheral hospitals and health officers of all wards informing them of the government decision.