Deploying the H1N1 vaccine around the world

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ULAANBAATAR - Shipments of vaccines, safety boxes and auto-disable syringes arrived at Mongolia on January 7, making it the first country in the world to receive vaccines as part of the WHO's H1N1 pandemic vaccine deployment programme.

The doses of vaccine, which will be enough to cover approximately four percent of the country's population, will be made available initially to health care workers. Other priority groups will be pregnant women, patients with underlying conditions and children. Further deliveries phased over time are designed to provide Mongolia with a total of 270,000 doses - for about 10 percent of the population.

"The World Health Organization is delighted to make this vaccine available to Mongolia," said Dr. S. Govind, officer in charge of the WHO country office in Mongolia. "It will be a vital weapon in the country's battle against the influenza pandemic."

"We are very pleased...that Mongolia is the first country in the world receiving WHO donated pandemic vaccine.," said Mr. S. Lambaa, Minister of Health of Mongolia, who was speaking at the handover ceremony on January 8 at Chinggis Khaan International Airport, Ulaanbaatar.

The vaccine manufactured by the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline Biological in its Quebec, Canada, plant, will be distributed in Ulaanbaatar and around the country.

Mongolia has officially reported 1,252 cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009, with 29 deaths, as of 7 January 2010. A slight increase in the number of cases was reported recently after weeks of declining activity following a large peak in cases more than one month ago. Globally, more than 208 countries and overseas territories or communities have reported laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009, including more than 12, 200 deaths.

To help countries protect people from developing severe disease from pandemic influenza H1N1 infection, the WHO is coordinating the distribution of donated pandemic influenza vaccine to 95 countries. To date, governments, foundations and manufacturers have offered pledges of 190 million doses, 75 million syringes and $46 million dollars to support the distribution initiative.

UNOPS is acting as distribution services agent on behalf of WHO to deliver hundreds of millions of vaccine doses and ancillary products. Azerbaijan received its first shipment of 90,000 doses on January 8.