Press Release

Pandemic Flu Planning – Purchase of H5N1 Vaccine

The Tánaiste, Ms Mary Harney, T.D. today (24th February 2006) announced the purchase of H5N1 vaccine.

This vaccine, as yet unlicensed, could offer some protection against the H5N1 flu strain. International experts consider that a stockpile of this vaccine could be used as a first line of defence for key health care workers and other essential workers while a vaccine against the exact pandemic influenza strain is manufactured.

The Department of Health and Children has been actively pursuing the purchase of a limited supply of this vaccine. We can now confirm we have secured sufficient vaccine for 200,000 people (i.e. 400,000 doses) to cover priority groups as outlined above. The vaccine is scheduled for delivery in May and October 2006.

This purchase forms part of the award of contracts to Baxter and Chiron announced today by the English Health Minister, Rosie Winterton, for supply of H5N1 vaccine.

The Tánaiste, Mary Harney T.D, expressed her appreciation to the Department of Health in London for their co-operation and assistance in this context.