Extensive stocks of vaccine are available to protect those in at-risk groups against H1N1 swine flu. Last year in Northern Ireland, GPs vaccinated 350,000 people in 'at-risk' groups against flu - the largest number of people ever.
In planning for this year's flu season, approximately 414,000 doses of seasonal flu vaccine were distributed to GP practices and Health and Social Care Trusts. This included additional vaccines for GPs to meet any further increase in demand from patients in at-risk groups, over and above the highest rates ever previously recorded. In addition, 400,000 H1N1 (swine flu) vaccines were held in readiness to supplement the vaccination programme, if needed.
Commenting on the current position regarding supplies, Dr Richard Smithson, Consultant in Health Protection, PHA said: "There is no shortage of a safe and effective vaccine to protect people in at-risk groups against swine flu. This is available to GP surgeries within 24 hours of ordering. If you are in an ‘at-risk’ group and haven't yet been vaccinated, it's still not too late - contact your GP and they will arrange vaccination. Pregnant women in particular, no matter what stage of pregnancy, should get vaccinated, even if they received the swine flu vaccine last year. GPs and Trusts will continue to use any seasonal flu vaccine that they still have, and as planned, we will use the large stock of H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine to meet any further demand.”
Up-to-date figures for the number of vaccines given in December 2010 will be available from 21 January 2011.
Guidance on who should be vaccinated, and the arrangements for vaccination, is available on the DHSSPS and PHA websites. PHA staff are also available to advise health professionals on vaccination and can be contacted through the usual channels for health protection advice.
Contact the PHA Press Office on 028 9031 1611.
Notes to the editor
Who should get the flu vaccine?
• Anyone aged 65 or over.
• Children and adults who have any of the following medical conditions:
- a chronic chest condition such as asthma;
- a chronic heart condition;
- chronic liver disease;
- chronic kidney disease;
- lowered immunity due to disease or treatment such as steroids or cancer therapy;
- a chronic neurological condition such as stroke, multiple sclerosis or a condition that affects your nervous system, such as cerebral palsy.
• Pregnant women regardless of their stage of pregnancy.
• Anyone living in a residential or nursing home.
• If you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person.
• Children who have previously been admitted to hospital with a chest infection.