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Army first in line to get cutting-edge swine flu shot

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Photo: DPA
15:00 CEST+02:00
The German army has ordered a stock of special swine flu vaccine that does not contain controversial additives that will be given to the general public, the Defence Ministry confirmed on Monday.

The announcement came in response to a report in daily Westfalen-Blatt, which said that Bundeswehr soldiers and their families on foreign deployments or preparing for missions overseas would receive the inoculations.

The A/H1N1 flu shots given to soldiers will contain neither a controversial strengthening additive, nor the preservative agent mercury, both of which are contained in the shots for the general public.

Additive-free Celvapan, manufactured by the US pharmaceutical company Baxter, was approved on October 6 for use in the European Union.

Defence Ministry spokesman Thomas Raabe said the Bundeswehr needs to be able to quickly and impartially inoculate soldiers and their dependants on foreign missions to ensure they were protected.

Raabe said that not all of the Bundeswehr‘s 250,000 soldiers could be vaccinated at once, but added it is important that the 7,200 troops on foreign missions receive the first shots, he said.

Some doctors have warned of unforeseeable side effects to the other EU-approved vaccines Pandemrix, made by British firm GlaxoSmithKline, and Focetria, manufactured by Swiss company Novartis.

However, there are no studies comparing the side effects, according to the Paul Ehrlich Institute, which oversees drug registration and safety in Germany.

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The president of Germany's Association of Children's and Young People's Physicians (BVKJ), Wolfram Hartmann, told the Westfalen-Blatt that the vaccines committee of the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin had reacted with surprise to the Bundeswehr's “solo approach.”

He called for children aged six months to six years to also be given the additive-free shots.

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