The new pandemic influenza (swine flu) vaccine is being made available to members of the public in ‘priority groups’ via GP surgeries across North Yorkshire and York.
Some GP surgeries that have already taken delivery of their initial batch of the vaccine have started to invite their patients in to receive it. Other GP surgeries will follow suit once they have received their initial stock.
The following groups have been prioritised for immunisation first:
- People aged over six months and under 65 years in the current seasonal flu vaccine clinical at-risk groups
- All pregnant women
- Household contacts of people with compromised immune systems e.g. people in regular close contact with patients receiving treatment for cancer
- People aged 65 and over in the current seasonal flu vaccine clinical at-risk groups. This does not include otherwise healthy over 65s, since they appear to have some natural immunity to the virus.
Vaccination of frontline health and social care workers has also started to take place across North Yorkshire and York. This group is at increased risk of infection and increased risk of transmitting that infection to susceptible patients.
Dr Phil Kirby, Associate Director of Public Health at NHS North Yorkshire and York, said: “Over the next few weeks, GP surgeries will be inviting people in the priority groups to come in for their swine flu jab. Some people will need to receive two doses of the vaccine and will therefore need to come in twice.
"Although the swine flu virus has so far proven to be mild in most people, for others it has been more serious. The vaccine programme will help protect those who are most vulnerable to infection or most at risk from this new strain of the virus, such as pregnant women.
“Protecting health staff is also important as it will help the NHS workforce to remain resilient and able to treat sick patients.
“Anyone who is worried they might have swine flu should contact the National Pandemic Flu Service which can prescribe antiviral medication if required.”
The National Pandemic Flu Service (NPFS) can be contacted on 0800 1 513 100 (0800 1 513 200 textphone) or going online to www.direct.gov.uk/pandemicflu
More information for the public about the swine flu vaccination programme is available at www.nhs.uk