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Chinese govt to offer free bird flu, foot-and-mouth vaccines

Beijing: China, one of the worst-hit nations by the deadly avian flu, will offer free bird flu and foot-and-mouth vaccines to farmers with the government allocating about 212 million dollars in this regard.

The Ministry of Finance has decided to allocate 800 million yuan (about 100 million US dollars) from the central finance budget and more than 900 million yuan (112 million US dollars) from local governments to pay for the vaccine, the 'Farmers Daily' reported today.

The Ministry of Agriculture said farmers can get the vaccine free of charge provided that they will use it properly according to the Ministry's latest immunisation regulations.

Strengthening immunity in spring is the best way to prevent diseases, said the Ministry. To regulate immunisation procedures, the Ministry has just issued an immunity programme against some serious epidemics like bird flu and foot-and-mouth disease.

The Ministry urged local governments to prepare thoroughly for the immunity procedures when migratory birds fly north in mid-April. Relevant immunity technical training will also be stepped up in local areas.

China has reported over 30 outbreaks of H5N1 type of the deadly bird flu among poultry, necessitating in culling some 30 million chicken, ducks and geese in affected areas.

Eleven out of 16 people infected by the disease have died.