China Becomes First Country to Start Mass H1N1 Vaccination Program

The first batch of people to receive vaccination against the new H1N1 strain of flu — a group of students in China — have reported no serious side effects, Chinese officials said on Tuesday.

China began a mass vaccination program on Monday, with around 100,000 students in Beijing due to be given the shots initially. State media said they are the first large group of people anywhere in the world to get vaccinated.

So far nearly 10,400 students have received the vaccine, all of whom will participate in National Day celebrations on Oct. 1, said Zhao Tao, head of the Beijing health bureau's Disease Control Department.

"The vaccination was very successful, and no heavy or abnormal reactions have been reported yet," Zhao told reporters.

He said the vaccine, though proven safe and effective in clinical trials, may produce partial reactions such as inflammation and fever, but that was unavoidable.

China has reported 13,262 cases of H1N1 flu, from which 8,805 people have recovered. No one has died in China, according to the Health Ministry.

The health minister this month warned that China faced a grim situation in containing H1N1 as schools start up again and the number of cases rises. The government plans to have enough flu vaccine to cover 5 percent of its 1.3 billion population by year-end.