GPC warns of crisis brewing over flu cases

The DoH must increase efforts to publicise the flu vaccine and improve jab uptake to avoid a major flu outbreak, the GPC has warned.

The GPC urged the government to step up its publicity of the illness and of vaccination following a sharp rise in cases in recent weeks.

Health Protection Agency (HPA) data released Thursday shows vaccine uptake among those in 'at risk' groups remains low -- just 40 per cent of this group under 65 have been vaccinated.

Seventeen people have so far died from flu since October.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘Flu is starting to make the headlines again and we have been alerted to low uptake figures. We want to see the DoH step up a gear in terms of publicity and getting people immunised.’

He said there was still misinformation about swine flu and the safety of the vaccine. ‘We really would appeal to the DoH to step up their publicity because if anything will jeopardise this year’s savings plan it will be a flu outbreak.’

He added: ‘There is a crisis brewing and this will only get worse.’

The DoH recently confirmed all pregnant women would be regularly offered the seasonal flu vaccine from next year.

Earlier this week, the department advised GPs to prescribe antiviral drugs to prevent or treat flu in line with NICE advice following the increase in infections.

Professor John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at the HPA, said it was not unusual to see this level of flu activity at this time of year.

But the circulation of swine flu as a predominant strain means the NHS is seeing more severe illness in people under 65 years than it usually would, he said.

Professor Watson added: 'Flu vaccination offers the best protection for those at high risk from seasonal flu and we urge all those in these 'at risk' groups - including pregnant women and healthcare workers - to get themselves vaccinated as soon as possible. It's not too late and it could save lives.'

The GPC urged the government to step up its publicity of the illness and of vaccination following a sharp rise in cases in recent weeks.

 

Ten people have so far died from swine flu in the past six weeks.

 

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘Flu is starting to make the headlines again and we have been alerted to low uptake figures. We want to see the DoH step up a gear in terms of publicity and getting people immunised.’

 

He said there was still misinformation about swine flu and the safety of the vaccine. ‘We really would appeal to the DoH to step their publicity because if anything will jeopardise this year’s savings plan it will be a flu outbreak.’

 

The GPC urged the government to step up its publicity of the illness and of vaccination following a sharp rise in cases in recent weeks.

Ten people have so far died from swine flu in the past six weeks.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘Flu is starting to make the headlines again and we have been alerted to low uptake figures. We want to see the DoH step up a gear in terms of publicity and getting people immunised.’

He said there was still misinformation about swine flu and the safety of the vaccine. ‘We really would appeal to the DoH to step their publicity because if anything will jeopardise this year’s savings plan it will be a flu outbreak.’

He added: ‘There is a crisis brewing and this will only get worse.’

The DoH recently confirmed all pregnant women would be regularly offered the seasonal flu vaccine from next year.
He added: ‘There is a crisis brewing and this will only get worse.’

 

The DoH recently confirmed all pregnant women would be regularly offered the seasonal flu vaccine from next year.
Stephen Robinson

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