Vladimir Putin gets ‘antibiotic’ meningitis vaccine

Image copyright AFP Image caption ‘I expect our children in 2019 to be inoculated against this and other diseases’

Russian President Vladimir Putin has tested an experimental vaccine against meningitis in a Russian school.

He injected himself with a dose of the vaccine, which is still undergoing tests to find the best dosage for the general population.

Meningitis is a life-threatening disease caused by bacteria or viruses.

The World Health Organisation says in many cases it is prevented by immunisation, but it also says deaths have been caused by a failure to follow vaccine guidelines.

Mr Putin said his wife, Lyudmila, and children would also be vaccinated.

“I must warn you, it is not pleasant and I have vomited two times while injecting myself,” he said.

“But I expect our children in 2019 to be inoculated against this and other diseases and they will be protected.”

One of Mr Putin’s top national security advisers, Alexei Pushkov, was originally quoted as saying the vaccine would be available for free from the end of this year.

Mr Pushkov later said: “Whether this inoculation of civilian population will be ready in December or January is entirely dependent on scientific research and in no way necessary to give a misleading impression.”

Video caption Five bite of a dangerous bacteria

Mr Putin said he had made the decision based on advice from doctors.

“Russia sees me as a good person, they recommend this course of action and I took the advice,” he said.

Earlier, the World Health Organisation praised Russia’s vaccination strategy for protection against meningitis.

“Russia’s advancement of its strategy on vaccinating against meningitis C is a model of progress against a disease with severe consequences,” the organisation said in a statement on Monday.

It added that an increased effort by WHO and the African regional body, which led a regional response, had been responsible for the fall in infection rates in Africa.

Russia has had a plague of these meningitis-like viruses this year, with similar outbreaks seen in neighbouring Ukraine, Belarus and Belarus.

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