14/08/2009

Swine Flu: Latest NI Figures

As the priority groups who will be first to receive the swine flu vaccine were being revealed today, the Department of Health has also published the weekly flu bulletin.

There were 12 new cases of laboratory confirmed swine flu during week 32, (last week) but the total number of such clinically tested cases in Northern Ireland has yet to reach 100.

Things have begun to slow down as NI continues to be the least affected area of the British Isles, with GP consultations for flu and flu-like illness decreasing - but remain significantly higher than expected for this time of the year.

Antiviral prescriptions have also decreased during week 32, with 1,185 courses prescribed, compared with 2,201 the previous week.

The Stormont Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey said: "There has been a noticeable decrease in swine flu cases across the UK.

"Since the start of the outbreak in April, we have had 97 laboratory confirmed swine flu cases."

He gave details of the groups who will be targeted as priorities when Northern Ireland receives an expected 132,000 doses of vaccine at the end of September and a total of 528,000 by the end of October.
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He explained these will be individuals aged between six months and 65 years in the current seasonal flu vaccine clinical 'at risk groups' as well as all pregnant women, subject to licensing considerations as well as household contacts of immunocompromised individuals and people aged 65 and over in the current seasonal flu vaccine clinical at risk groups.

"In addition, just over 7,000 antiviral courses have been prescribed by GPs to suspected cases," he said, but cautioned, "while the figures may be decreasing, it is expected that there will be a surge of cases in the autumn and it is essential that our population is protected.

"Preparations continue to be made to extend the programme beyond these initial priority groups and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will consider this matter further and report back in due course," he continued.

It has also emerged that frontline health and social care workers will also be among the first to be vaccinated: "It is vital that we also protect our staff to ensure that the Health and Social Care service is able to deliver care to the sick and vulnerable," Mr McGimpsey concluded.

(BMcC/KMcA)

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