Health care workers and HIV positive children will be the first to benefit from a new programme aimed at preventing the spread of the H1N1 virus in Gauteng, the provincial health department said on Wednesday.
"In the first phase of this campaign... front line health workers and HIV positive children under the age of 15 are being immunised," department spokesman Mandla Sidu said.
Healthcare workers such as nurses, intensive care unit workers, emergency services workers and doctors were most likely to come in contact with the virus and needed to be immunised, said Sidu.
"It is also important for us to immunise HIV positive children from 9 months to 15 years of age."
During the month of May, airport staff, pregnant women and patients with chronic lung and heart diseases would also qualify for immunisation.
After May, the programme would be open to anyone who wanted to be immunised, Sidu said.
Vaccinations free of charge
Vaccinations are free of charge at any public hospital or clinic, he said.
The H1N1 pandemic broke out last year in Mexico and spread across the world, including South Africa.
A total of 13 deaths were recorded in the Gauteng province alone.
"The aim of this campaign is to decrease mortality and morbidity rates as well as to reduce transmission of the pandemic virus within our communities, " Sidu said. - (Sapa, April 2010)