The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) recommended that South Africa include vaccines for swine flu in ordinary seasonal flu vaccines next year.
Professor Barry Schoub, director of the NICD, said the institute made the recommendation to the national health department, who should decide on whether or not to include a vaccine for the N1H1 virus in seasonal influenza vaccines.
Should this be approved, he said, the vaccines would be available early next year, before a possible second wave of swine flu hits the country in the winter season.
Schoub said the vaccines would be distributed like normal seasonal flu vaccines, but that certain high risk groups would be targeted. These included pregnant women, people with underlying medical conditions that make them more prone to contracting the virus, front line health workers, care givers to young children, children - especially those living in hostels and communal conditions, people living with HIV and the elderly.
Schoub said no case of N1H1 had been recorded in South Africa in the past two weeks.
Dr Lucille Blumberg of the NCID said to date the virus had claimed 91 deaths in South Africa and 12,619 laboratory-confirmed cases had been recorded.
While there was no local transmission of the virus at the moment, an international tourist with N1H1 has been admitted to a Western Cape hospital.
"Yesterday a new confirmed case was reported in a traveller to South Africa from Dubai. A pregnant woman is ill in an ICU in the Western Cape," she said.
People needed to maintain a high level of alert for imported cases, so they can be recognised early and treated appropriately. - (Sapa, November 2009)