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Children are swine flu jab priority

PUBLISHED: 09:49 23 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:42 03 July 2010

Health bosses in the region have now embarked on the second stage of the swine flu vaccination programme and all children between six months and five years will be offered the vaccine.

Health bosses in the region have now embarked on the second stage of the swine flu vaccination programme and all children between six months and five years will be offered the vaccine.

It comes as new figures reveal cases of swine flu have risen this week - after a dip in numbers over the past fortnight.

The number of unique reference numbers given out reached 8,701 compared to 7,896 the previous week - which is what people are given when they contact the National Flu Pandemic Service. Some 6,283 anti-virals were collected during the last week, compared to a previous 5,750.

The Department of Health confirmed the new vaccine programme this week and children will be offered the jab once the vaccination programme for the current priority groups is completed.

Health bosses in Norfolk said they are “on target” to reach all groups who are eligible for the vaccine but reminded people they will be contacted by their GP in the coming weeks and months.

Jonathan Williams, NHS Norfolk's assistant director of public health, said: “NHS Norfolk has already distributed a total of 50,000 doses of swine flu vaccine to GP practices in its area. By November 24, a further 35,000 doses will be sent to local practices.

“Each GP surgery in NHS Norfolk's area has so far received a batch of 500 doses so they can start to vaccinate patients identified as being in high priority groups.

“For surgeries which have more than this number of patients in high priority groups, they can re-order additional stocks of vaccine. NHS Norfolk is working closely with GP practices to ensure as many patients as possible are vaccinated over the winter months.”

Dave Kerry, emergency planning manager for NHS Norfolk said the county was the busiest in East Anglia and the region was the “busiest outside London” in terms of swine flu activity.

He said: “We are very busy but there is much lower activity than there was in July and the virus is not nearly as active as we predicted at this stage.

“However it remains a huge public health priority and people should not become complacent. It remains a mild infection in the majority of cases but there is still a threat to high risk groups. Our advice to patients is to wait to be contacted by their GP - you do not to contact your doctor about the vaccine.”

Nationally, there has been an increase in the numbers of swine flu-related deaths, up to 142 from 124 last week.

The government's chief medical officer has confirmed that one of these was in the east of England. There have been a further five school outbreaks in the region; 35 in total since the beginning of the autumn term.

Seasonal flu is now also circulating in the community and people are being reminded to get themselves vaccinated against both the seasonal and swine flu viruses if they are eligible.

Anyone who thinks they may have swine flu should contact National Pandemic Flu Service for assessment, which is available on 0800 1 513 100, or use the online service on www.direct.gov.uk/pandemicflu .

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