Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Two swine flu doses ready for everyone: minister

A man holds a box of the anti-viral drug, Tamiflu

Every person in Northern Ireland will have access to two doses of vaccine if the swine flu outbreak reaches pandemic level, the Health Minister has announced.

Michael McGimpsey revealed the vaccine plans as the family of Northern Ireland’s first confirmed case of swine flu said he is recovering well.

The Government yesterday disclosed that a deal has been signed to secure up to 90 million doses of H1N1 flu vaccine across the UK by December.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said: “I welcome the development that the agreement to secure the production of a pre-pandemic vaccine has been signed.

“This is an opportunity to secure vaccine supplies for the UK in advance of a pandemic wave.

“These arrangements provide the opportunity by December this year to have enough pre-pandemic vaccine to protect at least half of the population from swine flu.

“In addition, as part of our plans for a pandemic, we also have sleeping contracts in place, which means that if WHO moves to Phase 6 and declares a pandemic we will receive vaccine when it becomes available. This means that everyone in Northern Ireland will have access to two doses of pandemic vaccine, if they need them.”

The minister also revealed that the Public Health Agency has made contact with almost all the passengers on board last Friday’s Easyjet flight from Gatwick to Belfast International. This was the same flight on which the Co Antrim man who has contracted swine flu was a passenger.

Mr McGimpsey said: “I am pleased to hear that the patient is responding well to antiviral treatment and I hope he makes a full recovery as soon as possible.

“People should not be alarmed by this development. We have been planning for a situation like this for some years and are well prepared for any potential pandemic.”

The man’s family have confirmed he is recovering well.

He contracted the potentially fatal disease while on honeymoon in the Mexican resort of Cancun.

He is believed to have returned home a week ago and has been taking anti-viral drugs to combat the flu-like symptoms since his diagnosis.

It is understood the victim, who was unaware he had the contagious disease until tests confirmed it, is recuperating at home and is being cared for by relatives.

Speaking from the family home outside the village of Clady near Portglenone, the victim’s father said his son was “doing fine”.

He was reluctant to give any further details, but said people need not worry and asked that his son be left alone to recover in peace.

l The Northern Ireland Swine Flu helpline 0800 0 514 142, from 8am — 8pm provides advice to the public on swine flu. A national Swine Flu Information line is also available on 0800 1 513 513.

l Information leaflets at all ports and airports in Northern Ireland give advice to travellers returning from swine-flu affected areas.

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