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Publicly funded H5N1 vaccine available for high-risk people

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A publicly funded H5N1 flu vaccine is available until Aug. 31 for people over 18 years old and at high risk, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC, 疾病管制局) said yesterday.

CDC Deputy Director-General Chou Chih-hau (周志浩) said that people at high risk of suffering from the H5N1 flu are those working as coastguardsmen, disease control medical personnel, airport security agents and individuals who are going to epidemic areas. However, Chou suggested that pregnant women should not have the vaccination.

Chou said that people can go to designated public health centers or hospitals to be vaccinated against H5N1 without paying any fees. People only need to register and pay related fees.

“According to the World Health Organization's (WHO) statistics,” Chou said, “there have been 620 confirmed H5N1 cases worldwide since 2003 that led to 367 deaths.”

Chou said that Cambodia, China and Egypt have reported 12 confirmed H5N1 cases from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28 this year.

According to Chou, H5N1, also known as bird flu, was originally an enzootic in many bird populations. However, due to gene mutation in recent years, the virus has started to jump to humans through contact with contagious birds.

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