German minister urges swine flu vaccination
The German health minister said he was expecting the spread of H1N1 infections to move more rapidly in the coming weeks and months, and proper vaccination was essential.Berlin -- The German government Thursday urged its people to come forward for swine flu jabs when the country's vaccination programme begins on Monday.
Health Minister Klaus Theodor Schroder said he was expecting the spread of H1N1 infections to move more rapidly in the coming weeks and months, and proper vaccination was essential.
"The most effective protection against this infectious illness, this new flu, is vaccination," the minister said at a news conference.
"We are hoping for a high level of participation in the vaccination programme -- it is imperative," he said, adding that he expected "a more rapid and intense spread of infections in the coming weeks and months.”
"The weather in autumn and winter will encourage the spread of the virus and increase the risk of infection," Schroder said.
Vaccinations in Germany will be offered from Monday, with high-risk groups such as medical staff given priority.
The country has so far seen 25,000 H1N1 cases, according to the Robert-Koch public health research institute.
Revelations in the press that top officials and other essential workers would get a vaccine with fewer side effects than the one offered to the general public caused an outcry this week.
Schroder said there were no "better or worse vaccines in Germany.”
Recent opinion polls here have suggested that Germans are not overly concerned about the flu, which appears to have killed only two people to date in the country.
An Emnit poll said 59 percent of Germans had no fear of the flu.
Elsewhere in Europe, swine flu immunisation programmes have already begun in Britain, Belgium, Sweden and Italy.
Germany's neighbour the Czech Republic reported its first death from the H1N1 virus on Thursday.