BEIJING/HONG KONG - The first batch of people to receive vaccinations against the new swine flu -- a group of students in China -- has reported no serious side effects, Chinese officials said on Tuesday.
China began a mass vaccination program on Monday, with around 100,000 students in Beijing due to be given the shots initially. State media said they are the first large group of people anywhere in the world to get vaccinated.
China's Health Minister Chen Zhu, who is attending a regional meeting of the World Health Organization in Hong Kong, said public service providers and vulnerable groups in densely populated cities and travel hubs would be given priority.
We will concentrate (our vaccination) on certain areas, the Pearl River Delta, Beijing and Shanghai because they have heavy dealings with the outside world. This disease is imported from overseas, Chen told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting.
China's Sinovac reported earlier this month that its vaccine protected patients with a single dose [ID:nPEK368343].
A WHO expert meanwhile said he was convinced China's vaccine against the new H1N1 virus had been through proper tests.
The size, the way they developed the protocol ... there were not just internal people, but there were independent third parties, said Takeshi Kasai, an advisor with WHO's communicable disease surveillance and response in the Western Pacific.
Kasai, who was speaking to reporters at the WHO meeting in Hong Kong, said he had seen results of the Chinese clinical trials and found nothing untoward about the data presented.
Chen said China aimed to produce 26 million doses of the vaccine by end-October and 65 million doses by year-end.
So far nearly 10,400 Chinese students have received the vaccine, all of whom will participate in National Day celebrations on October 1, said Zhao Tao, head of the Beijing health bureau's Disease Control Department.
The vaccination was very successful, and no heavy or abnormal reactions have been reported yet, Zhao told reporters.
China has reported 13,262 cases of H1N1 flu, from which 8,805 people have recovered. No one has died in China, according to the Health Ministry.
Chen warned this month that China faced a grim situation in containing H1N1 as schools start up again and the number of cases rises.
(Reporting by Huang Yan and Ben Blanchard in Beijing and Tan Ee Lyn in Hong Kong; Editing by David Fox)