The number of people affected by swine flu has risen at a slower rate than first expected, but small numbers of people are becoming seriously ill after contracting the disease, according to the government’s most senior medical adviser.
However, chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson (pictured) said he hoped the swine flu vaccination programme tasking place in GP surgeries would help contain the spread of the virus.
In an interview on BBC 1’s Andrew Marr Show, he explained: “What we are seeing is that while most people generally get a mild illness, a small proportion of people are getting very serious illnesses.
“It’s taking them into hospital and a small proportion are dying.
“The good thing about the situation at the moment is we are getting a bit of breathing space with the relatively slow increase in cases to be able to get the vaccine in place.”
It could be mid-December before people at high risk from swine flu receive their vaccinations.
Sir Liam said: “We are actually putting the vaccine out at the moment. The deliveries to GPs started last week so people in priority groups will start to get the vaccine over the next few weeks.
“We won’t finish that programme, because it is nine million people in total to be vaccinated, until the end of November or early December.”
Asked about reports that the vaccine programme could be extended to cover under-18s, Sir Liam said: “We are looking about what to do next when we have enough vaccine to extend it beyond the priority groups.”
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Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
“My surgery received 500 doses on 26 Oct but this was insufficent to vaccinate their 1,200 at-risk patients in the four groups specified and no guarantee of another delivery soon. They were asked to choose 500 of their ‘at risk’ patients to receive the vaccine first, what about the others – how on earth would they have done that!!” – R Dowson, Burnham-on-Sea
“My GP surgery say they are still waiting for their supply and have been told it could be a few more weeks before it arrives” – D Walsh, South West London
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