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WHO chief vaccinated against swine flu

Geneva – World Health Organisation chief Margaret Chan has been vaccinated against the swine flu, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday, adding that the UN health agency recommends vaccination for everyone.

"We continue to recommend vaccination," Fadela Chaib, WHO spokeswoman told journalists in Geneva.

She added that the WHO’s director-general, who had admitted during a year-end press conference on 29 December that she was yet to be vaccinated, had received her jab against the A(H1N1) virus a day later.

Many countries have rolled out their vaccination programmes over the past three months, but the take-up rate has been lower than expected.

On Monday, France cancelled purchases of 50 million doses of flu vaccines and said it may sell some of its stocks.

Germany had said in early December that it wants to sell spare vaccines, while Switzerland said in mid-December that it would give away part of its stock to developing countries and sell another part to countries that are still trying to procure vaccines.

Chaib defended the WHO against criticisms that the swine flu threat was overhyped, leading to countries stocking far too many vaccines.

"It was completely within our mandate to alert the world," she said, noting that countries had decided themselves how they would like to respond to the pandemic threat.

She also warned against complacency against the flu, which has claimed 12,220 lives worldwide since it emerged in March 2009.

"We must not lower our guard. Countries in the northern hemisphere are in the middle of winter," she said.

AFP / Expatica