Australia launched its H1N1 vaccination campaign on Wednesday for adults and children aged 10 and over, one of the first countries to do so.
Health Minister Nicola Roxon said 5.5 million doses of the swine flu vaccine have been delivered across the country, enough to vaccinate about 30 per cent of the population. The country has ordered 21 million doses of the vaccine from pharmaceutical company CSL Ltd.
Those most at risk from the H1N1 virus — such as health-care workers, pregnant women, indigenous Australians and people with chronic diseases — are encouraged to talk with their doctor about getting the pandemic flu shot as soon as it is available locally.
Most people have a mild illness, but more than 4,700 Australians have been hospitalized with swine flu. About13 per cent of them were admitted to ICU, including almost 1,500 children and teenagers. The virus has been associated with 180 deaths in the country, including 10 children.
Unlike seasonal flu that tends to hit the elderly the hardest, the average age of Australians who died from H1N1 is 51 years, the country's Health Ministry said.
On Tuesday, the European Commission cleared two new H1N1 vaccines for distribution in Europe.
The European Medicines Agency approved the two vaccines last week after Britain experienced an increase in swine flu cases and amid concerns and the arrival of the winter flu season in Europe.
Most provinces and territories in Canada are delaying giving seasonal flu shots to most people and will start offering the H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available in November.