By Humphrey Carter

ON Sunday, the eve of the massive swine flu vaccination campaign launched yesterday against the AH1N1 virus here in the Balearics, a two-year-old boy died from the swine flu virus at Palma's Son Llatzer Hospital.

The child, who was already suffering from a serious medical condition, is the second fatal victim of swine flu in the region. The first was a Nigerian 33-year-old woman who died on July 16.

Sunday's tragedy came as a sharp reminder of just how dangerous the virus can be for the elderly or young, sick children and they are two of the high risk areas which began to receive the voluntary vaccinations yesterday.

The first being vaccinated yesterday were those who booked an appointment last Thursday, the day on which the campaign was unveiled but, over the next few weeks, the medical services expect to see a significant increase in the number of people getting vaccinated.

The Ib-Salut Balearic health service is looking to vaccinate 190'00 people in the first phase of the campaign, but the Ministry for Health in Palma does have a stock pile of 215'000 doses which, it is claimed, is sufficient to cover all the high risk groups, including pregnant women.

Yesterday, local health service sources stressed the importance of the public informing themselves about the vaccine before they book an appointment.
Health service sources admitted that the initial response to the campaign has been rather slow but that is probably because the general public as a whole continues to doubt the vaccine's efficiency.


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