Mongolia receives first supplies of pandemic influenza vaccine

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ULAANBATAAR, Mongolia, 7 January 2010-Mongolia today became one of the first countries in the world to receive donated pandemic influenza H1N1 vaccine from the World Health Organization (WHO). Azerbaijan was also scheduled to receive its first supplies.

In a ceremony Thursday in the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbataar, Minister of Health Dr. S. Lambaa officially took delivery of an initial batch of 100,000 doses of the vaccine from WHO officer-in-charge Dr Salik Govind.

The doses, which will be enough to cover approximately 4% of the country's population, will be made available initially to health care workers. Other priority groups in the first phase will be pregnant women and patients with underlying medical conditions, as well as essential service staff. Further WHO deliveries phased over time are designed to provide Mongolia with a total of 270 000 doses-enough for about 10% of the population. Among those targeted for inoculation once these supplies are received are children aged 1-5.

"WHO is delighted to make this vaccine available to Mongolia," said Dr Rojanapithayakorn. "It will be a vital weapon in the country's battle against the influenza pandemic."

The vaccine, manufacturered by the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline Biological in its Quebec, Canada, plant, will be distributed over the next few weeks in Ulaanbataar and around the country.

As of January 5, 2010, the Mongolian Ministry of Health had reported 1251 laboratory-confirmed cases and 28 deaths associated with pandemic H1N1. 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.

WHO is providing emergency supplies of the vaccine to 95 low- and middle-income countries that would not otherwise be able to secure supplies. If sufficient amounts of vaccine are pledged, WHO plans to provide enough doses to inoculate up to 10% of the population of each of these countries. WHO estimates that in the first year this will entail about 200 million doses of vaccine, plus ancillary products such as syringes and safety boxes.

For more information, please contact WHO's Dr Salik Govind on office phone number 976-11-327870, mobile 976-99033322.