BELGRADE - Serbia on Friday signed a contract for the purchase of 3 million doses of new flu vaccinces from Swiss Novartis AG, two days after the authorities declared epidemics of the disease.

Novartis and its Serbian representative, the Belgrade-based Jugohemija, will deliver 500,000 vaccines at a price of 8 euros per dose by mid-December, Tanjug news agency said.

The rest will be delivered in batches between January and March, it added.

The Serbian authorities will first innoculate babies, toddlers, pregnant women, the elderly and patients with chronic diseases and only then health workers and employees in public and utility services, including the police and military.

Serbia declared flu epidemics on Nov. 11 after eight people died from the new strain of A/H1N1 virus and more than 250 were diagnosed, but for the time being has stopped short of closing schools or banning public gatherings.

The Public Health Institute believes thousands have been infected but with mild symptoms. (Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Gordana Filipovic/Will Waterman)