UK Government

Department of Health: Protective benefits of pandemic 'flu vaccine still available’

Press Release   •   Feb 19, 2010 09:21 GMT

New cases of pandemic H1N1 (2009) influenza in communities in England remain at around their lowest level since the disease first appeared in the United Kingdom. Patients continue to be hospitalised and admitted to critical care facilities, though in declining numbers. There have been eleven further confirmed deaths in England attributable to pandemic H1N1 (2009) since our last bulletin. A substantial number of deaths from the last few months are still being investigated.

The pandemic H1N1 (2009) vaccination programme is still being delivered: front line health and social care staff; highest priority groups (those with underlying illness and pregnant women); and healthy children aged 6 months to under 5 years.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised the Government that these vaccination programmes should continue and be completed. This advice has today been communicated to the NHS. I continue to urge all those eligible for vaccination to approach their general practitioner or vaccination clinic and get the vital protection this jab offers.

Commenting on the latest situation, Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer for England said:

“Vaccination is the best way to protect against the risk of serious complications from the pandemic ‘flu virus that is expected back in this country later this year. Those with underlying illness, pregnant women and children aged over six months and under five years are strongly advised to take advantage of the protection the vaccine offers.”

Key statistics from the update

·  In England, the rate of general practitioner consultations for influenza like illness was 12.0 per 100,000 population for the week ending 14 February 2010

·  The number of people receiving antiviral drugs through the National Pandemic Flu Service in the week ending 16 February 2010 was 667

·  The Health Protection Agency overall estimate of the number of cases in the last week remains below 5,000 where it has been for the last eight weeks.

·  This week has shown a further decline from 3 February 2010 when there were 124 patients in hospital and 29 patients in critical care.

Latest JCVI advice

The JCVI has recently met again and further discussed the current pandemic situation and the H1N1 (2009) vaccination programme. They have advised the Government that unvaccinated people over the age of six months and in clinical risk groups (which includes those people aged 65 and over and in clinical risk groups but not healthy people aged 65 and over), pregnant women, household contacts of immunocompromised individuals, and front line health and social care workers should continue to be encouraged to receive the pandemic H1N1 (2009) influenza vaccine during the coming spring and summer.

The JCVI has provided this advice because these people are at particular risk if they become infected with the virus or, in the case of front line health and social care workers, may expose at risk patients to infection.  Vaccination of these groups will provide protection against the possible early re-emergence of pandemic H1N1 (2009) influenza this year.

Furthermore, the JCVI has advised that the vaccination of healthy children aged over six months and below five years should be completed by the end of the current 2009/ 2010 seasonal ‘flu season.

Vaccination figures

By 17 February 2010, 12.77 million doses of GSK vaccine and 0.38 million doses of Baxter vaccine had been sent out to the NHS in England. Further supplies are in warehouse stores.

The total estimated number of doses given to front line health and social care workers to-date in England is 400,000.

The total number of doses given to the priority groups in England to-date is 4.54 million. This figure includes:

145,000 pregnant women

518,000 healthy children aged 6 months to under 5 years in England

Notes to editors

1. Full statistical data can be found here

2. For media enquiries please contact the Department of Health Newsdesk on 0207 210 5221.

This fortnightly statistical bulletin replaces the weekly media briefings with the Chief Medical Officer on swine flu which were suspended on January 8 2010


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