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Ukraine: Vaccine Ban Blamed For Sweeping Epidemic

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Elections may be postponed while martial law continues. Health minister says one in two will get flu because vaccination was halted earlier this year due to deaths

Steve Watson
Friday, Nov 6, 2009

The severity of the mystery epidemic in Ukraine has been blamed on a ban on flu vaccines that was imposed in September after a series of deaths, mostly of children, who had received the shot at government health clinics.

The charge has been made by Oleksy Hromazyn, spokesman for Ukraine’s Ministry of Emergency Situations, who said that the effective absence of flu vaccinations in Ukraine since September has helped widen and deepen the impact of the present flu outbreak, according to a report from the German agency dpa.

Hromazyn commented that every second Ukrainian will catch the flu this season because of the recent moratorium on vaccines.

The charge will strengthen calls from President Victor Yushchenko for the Ukrainian population to immediately get inoculated with the new vaccines despite their severe reservations over the safety of the flu shots.

Hromazyn is member of the National Security and Defense Council, the body that has been elevated to the supreme authority in Ukraine by Yushchenko in the wake of an epidemic that is still shrouded in mystery.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

Despite the fact that the outbreak is now showing signs of slowing, Ukraine remains under virtual martial law after Yushchenko announced that anyone to comply with NSDC orders will be arrested.

A ban on public gatherings and a restriction of movement remains in place.

Government officials have now stated that elections scheduled for January may now be postponed and a continued state of emergency imposed.

The World Health Organization has praised the actions of the Ukrainian government, despite acknowledging that the H1N1 virus in Ukraine appears “no different there than anywhere else” and that any surge there may be due to a more susceptible population.

The influenza co-ordinator at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has a different opinion, however, noting that Ukrainian authorities have “gone over the top” with their response.


Charges that the crisis in Ukraine has been deliberately hyped into hysteria continue today, with an article out of TIME, highlighting assertions that politicians on both sides are using the developments to attack each other in a bitter case of political bickering.

Messages are mixed in Ukraine with Prime Minister Tymoshenko refusing to speak in favour of the vaccine. “I am not vaccinated,” she said in a television address this week. “I am protecting myself like everybody, with lemon, onion, garlic, everything that is needed. I think the best way is simply to protect your health through well-known means.”

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Poland, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Friday that his government won’t buy vaccines for swine flu that have not been properly tested or from producers who won’t take responsibility for possible side effects, despite events in Ukraine.

“Today we are dealing with great pressure from pharmaceutical firms … we are dealing with expectations that hundreds of millions of zlotys (dollars) will be spent on vaccine while no one wants to guarantee that it has no side effects,” Tusk said.

A total of 109 people have died of flu-related symptoms since late October, according to the Health Ministry in Ukraine, however only 14 deaths have been confirmed as a result of the H1N1 swine flu strain.

This article was posted: Friday, November 6, 2009 at 11:20 am

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