Public Health

Panflu Vaccine: Europeans Can't Be Bothered

Some say it's safety fears about a novel vaccine. Or maybe it's the relatively low level of flu activity this fall in Europe compared to North America. But the European reaction to swine flu vaccination has largely been a big shrug.

Take Germany, for example. Only five percent of the population and 15 percent of doctors have bothered to get vaccinated against pandemic flu. So the German government is peddling its stockpile on the foreign market.

In the U.K., under two percent of the population has stepped up, and only 17 percent of those at special risk of flu complications, according to Bloomberg News

France was gung-ho about panflu vaccine — placing early orders for 94 million doses for its population of 65 million. (That was back when officials assumed people would need two doses.)

But when vaccine clinics opened on Nov. 12, almost nobody showed up. But that changed some after France saw several highly publicized deaths from swine flu. Now President Nicolas Sarkozy has mobilized the army to keep vaccination centers open nights and weekends.

Ah, but look at the Scandinavians. They are Europe's model citizens when it comes to doing what public health officials want. According to Andrea Gerlin of Bloomberg, Norway has managed to vaccinate all 1.2 million people in high-risk groups. At least a third of Swedes have gotten swine flu shots.

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