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Embedded image codes are very sensitive to channel noise because a single bit error can lead to an irreversible loss of synchronization between the encoder and the decoder. P.G. Sherwood and K. Zeger (see IEEE Signal Processing Lett., vol.4, p.191-8, 1997) introduced a powerful system that protects an embedded wavelet image code with a concatenation of a cyclic redundancy check coder for error detection and a rate-compatible punctured convolutional coder for error correction. For such systems, V. Chande and N. Farvardin (see IEEE J. Select. Areas Commun., vol.18, p.850-60, 2000) proposed an unequal error protection strategy that maximizes the expected number of correctly received source bits subject to a target transmission rate. Noting that an optimal strategy protects successive source blocks with the same channel code, we give an algorithm that accelerates the computation of the optimal strategy of Chande and Farvardin by finding an explicit formula for the number of occurrences of the same channel code. Experimental results with two competitive channel coders and a binary symmetric channel showed that the speed-up factor over the approach of Chande and Farvardin ranged from 2.82 to 44.76 for transmission rates between 0.25 and 2 bits per pixel.