Swine flu vaccine in Sidmouth

DOCTORS in Sidmouth have begun offering the new Swine Flu vaccine to patients at high risk.

DOCTORS in Sidmouth have begun offering the new Swine Flu vaccine to patients at high risk.

On Monday letters went out to 470 people in the highest of four risk categories, who would normally have the seasonal flu vaccine.

These include those aged six months to 65, suffering from asthma, diabetes, heart failure, high blood pressure, with compromised immune systems and stroke victims.

"There is nothing wrong with the postal system because the 'phones have not stopped today," said Rob Spargo, practice manager at Blackmore Health Centre, Sidmouth, on Tuesday.


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Special swine flu clinics are being organised to immunise people next week and the week after.

He said every UK surgery had been sent a batch of 500 vaccines to offer to the highest risk group, identified by the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation.

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The second tranche of vaccines will go to pregnant women and the third to household contacts of those with compromised immune systems.

It will then be given to those aged 65 and over who are considered to be at risk.

Mr Spargo said: "The message is for people to wait until they get a letter and then respond by making an appointment."

It is important that anyone receiving a letter offering immunisation who decides not to go ahead should contact the surgery immediately to inform staff as the vaccine has a limited shelf-life and doctors could then offer it to others.

NHS Devon spokesman Paul Norris confirmed Sidmouth had some swine flu cases, but quashed concerns by some that it was rife in the town.

He said: "It is not rife at all in Sidmouth. Older people are appearing to be less susceptible than younger people. Sidmouth is not more affected than anywhere else."

He said those who usually have the seasonal flu jab should continue having it and also take the swine flu vaccine if at risk.

Nationwide there have been an estimated 78,000 new infections of swine flu in the past week, with the number of people needing critical care rising to 157 patients, the highest number since the flu emerged.

Of 137 people who have died in Britain from the illness since June, nearly half had underlying health problems.

Advice

Most cases of swine flu are mild. If you have flu-like symptoms and think it is swine flu, stay at home and check your symptoms at the National Pandemic Flu Service or by calling (0800) 1513 100.

Patients with swine flu typically have a fever or a high temperature (over 38�C / 100.4�F) and two or more of the following symptoms:

* unusual tiredness,

* headache,

* runny nose,

* sore throat,

* shortness of breath or cough,

* loss of appetite,

* aching muscles,

* diarrhoea or vomiting.

Call your GP if you have a serious underlying illness, are pregnant, have a sick child under 12 months old, your condition gets much worse or is still getting worse after seven days (five for a child).

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