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Frontline health workers prioritised for swine flu vaccine

14 August 2009 - 1:00pm

Frontline health workers are among those who will be first in line for vaccination against swine flu, health secretary Andy Burnham announced today.

Other groups prioritised for the vaccine include pregnant women and everyone in at-risk groups aged over six months.

This follows advice from independent experts on who should be first in line for vaccination.

The following groups will be prioritised in this order (numbers given are approximate and are for England only):

1.    People aged over six months and under 65 years in current seasonal flu vaccine clinical at-risk groups (about five million people)

2.    All pregnant women, subject to licensing conditions on trimesters (about 0.5 million people)

3.    Household contacts of people with compromised immune systems eg people in regular close contact with patients on treatment for cancer (about 0.5 million people)

4.    People aged 65 and over in the current seasonal flu vaccine clinical at-risk groups (about 3.5 million people). This does not include otherwise healthy over 65s, since they appear to have some natural immunity to the virus.

Frontline health workers at increased risk of infection

Vaccination of approximately two million frontline health and social care workers will begin at the same time as the first at-risk group, and will continue for as long as necessary, the Department of Health said. This group is at increased risk of infection and of transmitting that infection to susceptible patients. Protecting these people will help the NHS workforce to remain resilient and able to treat sick patients. 

The health secretary said: 'We are working with BMA and NHS organisations to reach a comprehensive swine flu vaccine implementation plan for this first stage of the programme.

'Although the virus has so far proved to be mild in most people, for others it has been more serious. By vaccinating high risk groups first, we aim to protect those most vulnerable to this virus.

'Our decisions at all times are based on advice from the most eminent specialists, and this will continue to be the case as we go forward.'

Frontline healthcare workers eligible for this vaccination programme are those also eligible for seasonal influenza vaccination, as detailed in the Green Book which was last updated in full in 2006.

The CSP’s June 2009 information paper Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infections, includes a section on swine flu.

Frontline Q&A  Swine flu and you

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