Canada ready to vaccinate for H1N1 flu early

Wed Oct 21, 2009 1:47pm EDT
 
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WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Canada will be ready to begin H1N1 flu vaccinations within days after the Canadian government approved a H1N1 vaccine made by GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said on Wednesday.

Canada has ordered 50.4 million doses from the company and at least 2 million have already been sent around the country, but regulatory approval was required before they could be used.

The federal government had initially slated the first week of November for the start of the vaccinations, but provincial governments, which are responsible for health care in Canada, will now be able to start the country's largest immunization effort in its history whenever they are ready.

"It's our best defense against being infected by this virus and spreading it to others," Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada's chief public health officer, told a news conference in Ottawa.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel and Randall Palmer; editing by Peter Galloway)