Healthy living

UK swine flu vaccine approved

Zone default image Priority groups to be offered vaccine first

The European Medicines Agency has recommended that the GlaxoSmithKline swine flu vaccine be approved for use in Europe.

Final approval of the vaccine, called Pandemrix, will be made by the European Commission.

Although preliminary clinical trials with the vaccine showed that it promoted a strong immune response after a single dose, the committee has recommended that people be vaccinated with two doses of the vaccine given three weeks apart.

In the UK, plans have already been drawn up to target approximately 11 million people who are at higher risk of complications if they become infected with the swine flu virus.

The first to be offered the vaccine will be an estimated five million adults and children between the ages of six months and 65 years who are in the current at-risk groups for seasonal flu. These would include people with chronic health conditions such as heart and kidney disease and asthmatics.

Next in line will be all pregnant women. These will be followed by household contacts of people who are immunocompromised either through medical treatment (e.g. cancer) or as a result of illness.

The last target group for vaccination will be people over the age of 65 who are in an at-risk group for seasonal flu. Healthy over 65 year olds appear to have some natural immunity to the virus.

Currently, a further 16 clinical trials involving 9000 adults and children of all ages are being conducted in Europe and North America to assess the vaccine's safety and effectiveness.

This article was published on Fri 25 September 2009

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