Unlike Maharashtra where its health workers are reluctant to immunise themselves against H1N1, Kerala has launched its second phase of immunisation of its health workers, a senior public health officer of Kerala said here.

“We are in the second phase of immunising our doctors and health workers against H1N1 infection and have already given 41,608 doses of the vaccine in Phase I,” Dr. Amar Fettle, Chief Nodal Officer, H1N1 infection control in Kerala told PTI on the sidelines of a seminar on ‘Swine flu H1N1 - Flu fears’ held yesterday at the civic-run Nair hospital.

The Centre gave 45,600 doses in the Phase I for government hospitals’ doctors, paramedical staff and other health workers in the state.

“We did not directly tell the doctors to take the vaccination. Instead, we trained and sensitised them about the vaccine and their role in taking the vaccine as they are exposed to the patients suffering from the infection more,” Dr. Fettle said.

In the first one week, the immunisation was slow, but then it picked up and at the end of phase I, 41,608 doses were taken by the doctors and health workers in the state, he said.

“In the second phase, we have received 34,000 doses and it will be used to immunise the doctors and paramedics in primary health centres and district hospitals across Kerala,” Dr. Fettle said adding “we are also providing free vaccines to those private hospitals whose doctors wanted to get immunised,” he said. Meanwhile, in Maharashtra, in the first phase, the total number of doctors and paramedics who got themselves immunised stood at 3,403, according to Assistant director Dr. V. M. Kulkarni.

The state, where there are around 5,000 doctors and over 20,000 paramedical staff, the number of doses used is very less, he said.

“We had asked all the district and city circles to give data of consent by the doctors and health workers for their willingness to have the vaccination and so far we have received letters from officials of 12 districts. Remaining 22 districts, including Mumbai, are yet to give us the consent of the doctors whoa re willing to take the doses,” he said adding “we have sent two reminders so far”.

Total number of doses given to Maharashtra of the imported vaccine (with expiry date October 2010) by the Centre is 34,300 out of which only 3,403 doses has been used up, though the number of people willing to take showed to be more than that, Dr. Kulkarni said.

In Mumbai, the state government supplied 2,000 doses and the municipal corporation returned 800 doses back to them.

Out of 1200 doses, 528 doses were given so far, Dr. Kulkarni said.

In the last year, the number of H1N1 cases were high in Maharashtra and Kerala.