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China offers free swine flu jabs to children under 3
BEIJING, Jan 8 (AFP) Jan 08, 2010
China has said it will offer free swine flu jabs to children aged six months to three years, as the government ramps up its vaccination programme ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays.

Children are among the most susceptible to the A(H1N1) influenza virus, the health ministry said in a statement posted on its website Thursday.

A vaccination designed for children had been tested in several regions, Xinhua news agency said, citing an earlier statement from the ministry.

China has so far vaccinated nearly 51.4 million people, the health ministry said -- the largest campaign in the world, but still only a small proportion of the country's 1.3 billion people.

The government reported a total of 659 swine flu deaths by the end of 2009, with nearly all of them in the last two months of the year. The ministry has warned that the danger of mass outbreaks still exists in certain areas.

Ministry officials have warned of a "grim" winter flu outlook, and are urging caution ahead of the February Lunar New Year holidays, when hundreds of millions of people swamp roads and railways to visit loved ones.

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