"The first cargo of swine flu vaccine arrived in Iran from France today and this cargo will undergo quality control and checks before vaccination of vulnerable groups can be started," Director of the Health Ministry's Flu Program and Border Health Care Mahmoud Soroush told FNA.
Although Soroush stressed that Iran has bought the cargo from a valid French company, he reiterated that the vaccine will be used merely for vulnerable groups of the people and only after positive laboratory test results.
The Iranian health ministry announced earlier that it has purchased two million doses of swine flu vaccine from France to help contain a sudden pandemic of the disease and the resultant high fatality rate in vulnerable groups, specially in the cold season.
The ministry also added that in the first phase, vulnerable groups, specially patients with cardiac diseases and asthma, children, diabetics and the elderly over 65 years of age will be vaccinated.
Earlier on Saturday an Iranian health official declared that swine flu has claimed the lives of 147 Iranians across the country.
"Some 3,762 individuals have tested positive for A/H1N1 virus in the country, with 147 deaths," Deputy Health Minister Hassan Emami-Razavi said.
Swine flu is a contagious respiratory disease which is a mixture of bird, pig and human genes. The virus can spread to people who have contact with infected pigs. It spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes around someone else. People can become infected by touching something with the flu virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes.
Symptoms of swine flu are similar to the common flu: fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting. Swine flu also can cause pneumonia, which can make it hard to breathe.