Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Everyone at high flu risk to get vaccine by December

Health officials have moved to reassure the public that the swine flu vaccination programme in Northern Ireland will be completed as soon as possible.

It comes as one concerned parent told the Belfast Telegraph he has no idea when his asthmatic son will receive the swine flu vaccine.

His GP practice had told him they have only received 110 vaccines and require 800 to immunise everyone considered to be in the at-risk category.

The father of the youngster, who receives the seasonal flu vaccine, said the surgery told him they do not know the date of the next delivery or how many vaccines they will receive.

However, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) has said it hopes everyone in the priority groups will receive the vaccination by December.

The programme began last week with healthcare workers the first to receive the jab, followed by children with severe learning difficulties.

UK-wide policy states that the programme should then be rolled out to individuals under the age of 65 who are in the seasonal flu clinical risk groups, pregnant women, household contacts of immuno-compromised individuals and people over 65 who receive the seasonal flu vaccine.

As the vaccine has been created in response to the emergence of the virus production of the H1N1 vaccine is ongoing and being delivered to England on a weekly basis. A proportion is allocated to Northern Ireland and delivered to a central location, where it is distributed to health trusts and GP surgeries in the province.

The DHSSPS said while some patients may not be vaccinated immediately a decision was taken to launch the programme as soon as the UK took delivery of the first batch of jabs, with the programme being rolled out as soon as more vaccinations became available.

The first batch of vaccines was delivered to Northern Ireland by October 15. There are currently some 55,000 vaccines in Northern Ireland which are being distributed.

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