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The first swine flu vaccinations arrived in Israel Sunday, and 350,000 doses are expected to be here by the end of the week.

The vaccinations, produced by the Swiss company Novartis, were flown in. They are expected to pass inspection, have the relevant stickers in Hebrew applied, and be distributed to the health maintenance organizations and hospitals over the next two weeks.

The team advising the Health Ministry on handling epidemics decided last week that the first vaccinations would be administered to medical staff and to chronically ill patients between the ages of 10-65.

Chronically ill patients between the ages of 3 and 9 will receive two inoculations.

The team has not yet decided whether to inoculate pregnant women and children under age 3.

Inoculation has already begun in the U.S., Australia and the United Kingdom.

Long lines in U.S.

Long lines were reported at U.S. vaccination points, despite warnings that the vaccine may have significant side effects, as it underwent expedited testing.

During the last swine flu outbreak, in 1976, a vaccine was developed that left 500 people with Guillain-Barre syndrome, which has neurological side-effects. Twenty-five people died due to respiratory complications.

Israel is expecting to receive 1.75 million vaccinations by the end of the year, and 2.3 million by next March. The vaccinations will be provided by the three companies contracted by the Health Ministry - Novartis, Sanofi Pasteur of France, and GlaxoSmithKline of Britain.

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