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Swine flu vaccine for all

13 July 2009

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Health officials are preparing to undertake the largest vaccination drive in the last half century to immunise the population against swine flu.

The death of a British citizen who died of swine flu without any other health problems has spurred health officials into action.

Experts are identifying the most vulnerable patients who must be immunised as early as possible, before the virus becomes more deadly.

Peter Holden, the British Medical Association’s lead negotiator on swine flu, told The Sunday Times: “The high risk groups will be done at GPs’ surgeries.”

Although the green signal is yet to be given, Mr Holden said “we want to get cracking before we get a second wave, which is traditionally far more virulent.”

While he stressed the need to immunise people before the virus gets more “nasty”, Mr Holden said “the sheer logistics of dealing with 60 million people can’t be underestimated.”

Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer, added that even healthy people could contract the deadly virus, but A(H1N1) wasn’t nearly as severe as it could have been.

He said: “If it had, for example, come out of the bird flu variant it would have been producing much higher levels of mortality.”

The swine flu death toll in the UK currently stands at 15.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Department of Health