Swine flu jab campaign 'failed'

312 people died from swine flu in France last year

Less than 8.5% of population received the jab and millions of doses were thrown away, parliamentary report finds

FRANCE'S swine flu vaccination scheme was a "failure", with millions of doses having to be thrown away or cancelled, an official parliamentary investigation has concluded.

A new report by MPs and senators found the €700m vaccination campaign had failed to persuade doctors and the public of the importance of the jab.
Some 5.36 million people were vaccinated - less than 8.5% of the total population and short of the government's 12 million target.

Nouveau Centre MP Jean-Christophe Lagarde, who led the investigation, said the low turnout and the fact that almost 3.5 million doses were thrown away represented "a public health failure".

The report said the way the vaccination was given out, using specially set up centres and avoiding local GPs, had contributed to the low take-up.

It also found that a number of doctors who were requisitioned to help out in the vaccination centres have still not been paid after more than six months.

The committee agreed that the government had legitimately believed that swine flu presented a serious public health risk.

It said the decision to order 92 million vaccine doses was justified at the time, in mid-May, before doctors had concluded that only one dose was needed per person.

However the government should have revised its order when it became clearer that the virus was less deadly than initially feared.

Drug manufacturers Sanofi and Novartis have agreed to cancel nine million doses between them. However GlaxoSmithKline, which was asked to cancel 32 million doses, is still negotiating for compensation in the region of €108m.

Some 312 people died from swine flu in France last year. One flu expert had predicted last May that the virus would claim the lives of 30,000 people.

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