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Swine flu deaths prompt vaccine appeal

14 December 2010

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In the last six weeks, 10 adults have died after contracting the swine flu virus, which has prompted health chiefs to urge people who are at risk to visit their GP and receive the vaccine.

The people who have died after contracting H1N1 swine flu, which swept the country last year, are adults aged under 65, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) confirmed.

A spokeswoman said that while most had underlying conditions, there was “a small proportion” who were in good health before they contracted the virus.

The deaths have come at a time when the number of people visiting the GP because of flu is at a low rate. Doctor consultations for illnesses relating to the virus in England last week were 13.3 per 100,000 population.

Professor John Watson, head of respiratory diseases department at the HPA, said: “Over the last few weeks we have seen a rise in the number of cases of seasonal flu, including both H1N1 (2009) and flu B, in the community. We have also received reports of patients with serious illness requiring hospitalisation and outbreaks of flu in schools across the country.

“For most people, flu is not life threatening and usually lasts seven to 10 days. However, it can be far more dangerous for those in at-risk groups, such as the elderly, pregnant women and patients with heart problems, diabetes or lung, liver or renal diseases, or those who have weak immune systems who are at risk of developing complications.

“Flu vaccination offers the best protection for those at high risk from seasonal influenza. If you are in an at-risk group and you haven’t had your jab, we recommend you make an appointment with your GP or medical practitioner now.”

Copyright © Press Association 2010

NHS swine flu