‘Minister ignored advice over swine flu vaccine double dose plan’
Health minister Ab Klink ignored advice from both the Dutch vaccine and public health institutes when he bought 34 million doses of swine flu vaccine last year, RTL news reports.
The tv programme says the vaccine institute told Klink that two shots per person would be unnecessary. And the public health institute warned Klink delivery would be too late for a mass vaccination programme.
The Netherlands bought 34 million doses of the vaccine for H1N1 at the height of the scare, enough for two shots per person.
But the mass vaccination programme only began in November just weeks before the epidemic was over. In January, the government began trying to sell the vaccines to other countries.
In the end only young children, the elderly and some categories of workers were vaccinated, leaving 19 million doses of vaccine unused. Nearly 18 million of them are now in the process of being destroyed because they are past their ‘use by’ date.
A health ministry spokesman said Klink ordered so many doses as a precaution because it was unclear how the epidemic would progress.
It emerged last year that the country’s chief virologist Ab Osterhaus, who advised the government to buy a double dose of the vaccine, has close links to drugs firms. He denied any conflict of interest.
In total, 63 people have died of swine flu in the Netherlands and nearly 2,200 people were hospitalised.
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