"We need leading politicians available of important decisions need to be taken and signed in a situation where there is a pandemic," says Kertsin Westholm, the top civil servant of the county council to Upsala Nya Tidning.
This week, the mass vaccination campaign against swine flu began in earnest in Sweden, with the result of long queues and clinics running out of vaccine in many places. The various health authorities have organised the campaign in different ways, with some part of the country prioritising children, others prioritising those who are in a risk group, for example pregnant women or people with a heart condition.
On Sunday, Health Minister Maria Larsson criticised the decision to prioritise the politicians in the queue. "Those who ought to be prioritised are, and who should get the vaccine first are on the one hand health service employees and those who have an extra risk of getting a serious illness, ie those who have an underlying illness or are pregnant. We have been very clear on this, and I find it unfortunate and inappropriate that certain health authorities prioritise differently," Larsson told Swedish Radio News.
According to the tabloid Aftonbladet the county councils in two other regions of the country, Dalarna and Gävleborg, have also decided to prioritise politicians.