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Swine flu vaccine 'to be delayed by 6 weeks'

older people may not be priority for swine flu vaccine The need to treat seasonal flu complicates roll-out

Doctor's trade body The General Practioner's Council (GPC) is warning there may be a delay of at least six weeks to the planned roll-out of the swine flu vaccination programme in the UK. This would mean starting vaccinating against swine flu in October rather than August.

Reported yesterday on the www.pulsetoday.co.uk website, the delay is due to different vaccination priority groups being recommended for the swine and seasonal flu vaccines.

Whereas older people are targeted for seasonal flu vaccinations, they will be near the bottom of the list when it comes to being vaccinated against swine flu vaccine, according to Pulse.

A similar vaccination strategy was recommended last week by the Centres for Disease Control in the United States.

Although the Department of Health has stated that no priority groups have been decided, the article quotes an anonymous source who says that GPs and other health professionals will be vaccinated first, followed by pregnant women, under 5 year olds, adults over the age of 65 WITH a chronic condition, then all remaining under 18 year-olds.

Priority groups for seasonal flu vaccination remain the same.

This is based on the current observed spread of swine flu, with older people being amongst the least affected so far.

Because the two flu vaccines will be given to different priority groups, GPs predict it will prove too complicated to carry out both vaccination programmes by the end of August, the government's deadline.

Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the GPC, said: "Swine flu vaccination is most likely to cover different groups than the seasonal campaign. It won’t be appropriate to expect it to be done with the same resources."

And the man leading negotiations with the Department of Health, Dr Peter Holden, added "...the August prediction is far too optimistic. I don’t think we will have confidence to deliver both vaccination campaigns until at least six weeks later."

More information

Pulse Today web site article

This article was published on Thu 6 August 2009

Image © Gabriel Blaj - Fotolia.com

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