NEWS

One in 10 ‘immune’ to H1N1

About one in 10 Greeks is believed to have developed immunity to swine flu after having contracted the virus, health authorities said yesterday, adding that another 214,000 people, or about 2 percent of the population, have received the H1N1 vaccine. According to the latest report issued by the Center for Infectious Diseases Control (KEEL), at least 800,000 people in Greece have been infected with swine flu, received anti-viral drugs and are now immune. It seems Greeks have overcome the initial skepticism a large proportion had expressed about the possible side effects of the swine flu vaccine, with 214,884 people having received immunization shots between November 16 and yesterday. Yesterday, the fourth phase of a government plan to vaccinate the entire population against swine flu got under way, focusing on dispensing the vaccine to citizens aged over 50 who do not have other serious health problems. Last week, inoculation centers were vaccinating people aged 18 to 49, the week before that staff were offering jabs for high-risk groups of citizens, including the elderly and those with chronic health problems, while the first week had focused on health sector professionals. According to health authorities, only a few cases of mild side effects have been reported by Greeks who have received the vaccine. These reportedly include mild pain or hives around the area of the injection. Meanwhile, the number of deaths of patients diagnosed with swine flu rose to 34 with five fatalities recorded over the weekend. As has been the case with most fatalities linked to swine flu in Greece, the five most recent deaths involved people with underlying ailments, including acute obesity, Down syndrome or thyroid problems. Another 35 people with swine flu symptoms – including a 26-year-old pregnant woman and a 7-year-old girl – were yesterday in intensive-care units. Another 38 swine flu patients were in regular hospital wards after also being diagnosed with pneumonia.