Hundreds of retired medical staff across Northern Ireland could be drafted in to help cope with administering swine flu vaccinations if there is an outbreak here.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr Elizabeth Mitchell said that as a precaution plans are in place for every person in the province to have two doses of the vaccine, if it is needed.
And in order to cope with the massive operation former medical staff could be approached to assist in administering around 3.6 million doses.
Dr Mitchell, said the public “should not be alarmed” as preparations for a possible pandemic have been developed over many years. But she added that there could be a time when they will have to “treat rather than test”.
“Yes, it is possible retired staff, doctors and former medical staff could be recruited to help deliver the vaccines,” she said.
And Dr Mitchell said in the case of a possible outbreak among children who have just broken up for school during the summer holidays a risk assessment would be carried out.
“A letter would probably then be sent out to parents to inform them and assure them at the same time. Communication is key,” she said.
Dr Mitchell added that it was vital for people to continue to take measures to protect themselves. “Anyone who has travelled to Mexico or other affected areas and develops flu-like illness should stay at home and seek advice from their GP,” she said.
“The GP will then contact the Public Health Agency to ensure that the patient gets the appropriate antiviral treatment promptly.”
Dr Mitchell said leaflets would soon be in the post as part of a public information campaign.