Swine Flu Vaccinations are on the Way
Preparations underway locally to tackle the pandemic
Vaccinations against swine flu should be available in Ealing next month.
However, not all of the vaccine will arrive immediately and health officials say people at greater risk of becoming more seriously ill from swine flu will be given it first.
The vaccine, Celvapan, has been grown using cell culture, a much faster method than the traditional way of growing it in eggs.
Drug companies Baxter and GlaxoSmithKline have been contracted to provide it to the UK.
Experts have raised concerns about the lack of safety information on flu vaccines in vulnerable groups but Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, director of vaccine research at the World Health Organisation has sought to reassure the public.
She says the vaccines were based on "old and proven technology" and regulatory agencies would be monitoring for any signs of adverse reaction.
Government Ministers say they expect to have enough doses for half the UK population by the end of the year.
Who are the high risk groups?
People who are most at risk from swine flu need to be vaccinated first, including in order of priority:
* People between six months and 65 years old who usually get the seasonal flu jab
* Pregnant women, subject to licensing conditions on trimesters. The EMeA license will indicate whether the vaccine can be given to all pregnant women or whether it should only be offered at certain stages of pregnancy
* People who live with those whose immune systems are compromised, such as cancer patients or people with HIV/AIDS
* People aged 65 and over in the current seasonal flu vaccine clinical at-risk groups
Front line health and social care workers will also be offered the vaccine. They are both at an increased risk of catching swine flu and of spreading it to other at-risk patients.
Why aren't children included in the priority groups?
If a child has an underlying health condition and usually has the seasonal flu jab they will need to be vaccinated against swine flu. Otherwise it is important that we prioritise those who need it most.
Do I have to get vaccinated?
No, the swine flu vaccine is voluntary. However, we strongly encourage everyone in an at-risk group to have it.
I'm worried about swine flu but I'm not in a priority group - what do I do?
People in the priority groups are more at risk of becoming seriously ill from swine flu. Most other people will only have mild symptoms.
If you think that you might have swine flu, stay at home and contact the National Pandemic Flu Service at www.direct.gov.uk/pandemic flu or call 0800 1 513 100. They can give you advice and, if necessary, provide you with antiviral drugs.
September 3, 2009