The Ministry of Health (MOH) has secured supplies from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for one million doses of its Influenza A (H1N1) vaccine. This is part of our phased and diversified approach in securing a sufficient quantity of the vaccine for our population. The GSK vaccines are expected for delivery by the end of this year.
Large scale vaccination, on a voluntary basis, will commence once we are satisfied with the safety and efficacy reviews of this vaccine, currently being undertaken internationally. A few countries have launched or announced their plans to conduct mass vaccinations for their people. We are closely watching their experience.
MOH will reserve part of the supply for essential personnel, including those in the healthcare sector. Most of the vaccines will be provided at cost to the GPs for use by their clientele. The cost of the GSK vaccine is comparable to the cost of normal seasonal flu vaccine. If the immediate demand exceeds the initial supply, we will advise the GPs to give greater priority to those who are at higher risk of developing complications from H1N1.
Influenza A (H1N1) remains pandemic globally. While it has remained relatively mild, and most patients have recovered fully from the disease, the virus may cause complications and even deaths amongst those with underlying medical problems, such as chronic lung diseases (e.g. asthma), diabetes, gross obesity, low immunity or those who are pregnant.
Vaccines are important medical interventions to reduce morbidity and mortality during a pandemic. The GSK contract should meet our immediate needs. MOH has an existing contract with Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (CSL) Australia Pte Ltd for further supplies of H1N1 vaccines.