From Featuring Dr Chris Steele MBE

Swine flu cases continue to fall

Vaccinations to start in October

The number of new swine flu cases in the UK continues to fall, according to the latest figures released today by the Health Protection Agency.

Last week an estimated 25,000 people contracted swine flu compared with 30,000 the previous week, and 110,000 the week before that.

The number of people going to their GP with flu like illness in England dropped from an average of 42 consultations per 100,000 people to 30.9. This fall was seen throughout the country and in all age groups.

The number of people admitted to hospital has also fallen from 530 to 371. The number of deaths due to the virus now stands at 46, two more than last week.

The Agency also reported that most illness caused by the virus is mild, but can be severe in a small minority of cases. There is no sign that the virus is changing or developing resistance to any of the anti-viral drugs.

The Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson announced that the vaccination of priority groups would start in October, later than originally planned.

First in line for the vaccine will be those between the ages of six months and 65 years who are already in the seasonal flu high risk groups. Essential healthcare staff will also be prioritised followed by pregnant women.

The vaccine will next be offered to people who live with others who are immunosuppressed, either because they have a health condition or are on medication.

To date 300,000 doses of the vaccine has been delivered to the UK and over 50m doses are expected by the end of the year.

This article was published on Thu 13 August 2009