Swine flu vaccine here by August

THE swine flu vaccine should begin arriving at the end of August, the Government insisted last night, amid fears of a delay before people receive jabs.

:: WE'RE holding a live Q&A session on swine flu on our website featuring a health expert from the region and we want your questions. Send them to matt.mckenzie@ncjmedia.co.uk with 'Swine Flu question' in the subject box.

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THE swine flu vaccine should begin arriving at the end of August, the Government insisted last night, amid fears of a delay before people receive jabs.

The UK is in line to get around 60 million doses of the vaccine by the end of December, with the rest of the doses following next year.

The first batches are expected in August and the Government has drawn up a priority list of people to receive the jab.

However, there is expected to be some delay between when the manufacturers, Baxter and GlaxoSmithKline, deliver the supplies and people receive their first vaccinations. The jab has to be approved by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency before it can be used.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “The manufacturers have told us that they will be delivering the first supplies of the vaccine at the end of August.

“The vaccine will also need to satisfy regulatory requirements before it can be used.

“We have contracts with manufacturers to supply enough vaccine for the whole population once it has been developed.

“Creating a new vaccine is a complex scientific procedure but based on the manufacturer’s current forecast, we expect to have around 60 million doses by the end of the year.”

The comments come after the head of the World Health Organisation said a swine flu vaccine may be further away than has been claimed.

Director general Dr Margaret Chan said: “There’s no vaccine. One should be available soon, in August.

“But having a vaccine available is not the same as having a vaccine that has been proven safe.”

Dr Alan Hay, director of the WHO’s London-based World Influenza Centre, said Health Secretary Andy Burnham had been “a bit optimistic“ in predicting the first deliveries in August.

He said experts had expected a short series of outbreaks to peter out before reappearing in the autumn or winter and had been “a little surprised“ by the degree of spread of the virus.

Chief Medical Officer for England Sir Liam Donaldson said that Dr Chan may be talking about vaccine delivery worldwide.

“She may be commenting from a global perspective, but as far as the UK is concerned, we are still expecting to get 60 million doses of vaccine by the end of the calendar year and for the first supplies to arrive in the early autumn.”

A list of priority groups to get the vaccine has been drawn up but this is under constant review in light of information on the way the virus is spreading, vaccine supply and capacity in the NHS.

On the list are people aged between six months and 65 with a health condition like asthma, diabetes, heart, liver or kidney disease, or a suppressed immune system.

Pregnant women are also on the list, as are frontline health workers and children aged from three to 16.

NHS Direct released new figures today on the number of calls it is answering about swine flu.

Yesterday, 9,697 calls relating to swine flu were answered, up on the 9,060 answered on Monday.

In the last week of May and June, fewer than 1,000 calls answered per day were about swine flu.

Almost 1.6m people have used the online cold and flu symptom checker run by NHS Direct.

Yesterday, it emerged that swine flu sufferer Dr Michael Day died from natural causes with the major factor being a blood clot to the lungs.

No inquest will be held into the death of the 64-year-old, who died on Saturday in the Luton and Dunstable Hospital.

Another swine flu patient, Chloe Buckley, six, from West Drayton in west London, died on Thursday at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington after contracting the virus.

A post-mortem has been carried out to establish the exact cause of her death.

The number of UK deaths linked to the virus stands at 17.

The first British patient without underlying health problems died on Friday after contracting swine flu.

Nearly 10,000 Britons have been confirmed with swine flu but hundreds of thousands more are thought to have the virus.

The number of cases is now being estimated as the numbers rise too high for individual patients to be swabbed and counted.

Page 3: If you think you have swine flu

If you think you have swine flu

Do:

Check your symptoms online at www.nhs.uk  or by calling the swine flu information line 08001 513 513.

Stay at home, rest and drink plenty of fluids.

Use over-the-counter flu remedies or paracetamol to relieve symptoms.

If still concerned and symptoms are not relieved, call your GP over the phone, who will make an assessment and may suggest a course of antiviral treatment.

Help reduce the spread of infection by following basic hygiene rules: cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze or cough, dispose of the tissue immediately and then wash your hands thoroughly. In short – catch it, bin it, kill it.

Don't:

Go to A&E or your GP surgery if you suspect you have swine flu, unless you are advised to do so by a healthcare professional.

Swine flu symptoms:

The symptoms of swine flu are broadly the same as those of ordinary flu. Only contact your GP if you have a high temperature and at least TWO of the following:

* widespread muscle and joint aches
* cough
* headache
* blocked or runny nose
* sore throat
* vomiting
* diarrhoea
* cannot stop crying (only in children)

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:: WE'RE holding a live Q&A session on swine flu on our website featuring a health expert from the region and we want your questions. Send them to matt.mckenzie@ncjmedia.co.uk with 'Swine Flu question' in the subject box.

 
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