UK swine flu cases have fallen for the first time since August, down to 64,000 fresh infections in the past week. It is thought the half-term holiday may be behind the drop of 20,000 from the preceding week.
Despite a fall in cases the amount of people needing hospital care for the virus has remained high, with 785 patients in hospital.
The United Kingdom has also seen 28 additional deaths related to swine flu, raising the total to 182.
Virtually all doctors have now received their first supplies of the swine flu vaccine. The 6.6 million doses delivered in the past month are now being used to safeguard those most susceptible to swine flu, including pregnant women and individuals with long-term conditions.
OTHER VALUABLE NEWS
-Use of the National Pandemic Flu Service has levelled off.
-Priority groups continue to be vaccinated, and almost all GPs have received their first delivery of swine flu vaccine.
-The Department of Health has published new guidelines for the management of swine flu in pregnancy. The new guidance contains detailed advice for clinicians looking after pregnant women. Also available is a brochure for pregnant women.
NATIONAL VACCINATION PROGRAMME
NHS hospitals are now vaccinating patients facing the maximum risk of problems. Healthcare staff dealing with the public are also being vaccinated to help keep health services running smoothly and to prevent them from passing the virus to patients.
Nearly all GPs have received their first supplies of the vaccine. Patients will be contacted by their GPs if they fall into one of the at-risk categories.
The order of priority will be:
-People aged from six months to 65 in current seasonal flu risk groups
-All women who are pregnant
-Those living with persons with compromised immune systems, for example those receiving cancer treatment
-People aged over 65 in the current seasonal flu risk groups.
The government has issued a swine flu vaccination leaflet with more information.
Frontline health and social care workers will also be offered the vaccine at the same point in time as the first clinical at-risk groups. Health and social care workers are both at an increased risk of catching swine flu and of spreading it to other at-risk patients.
Healthy people aged over 65 appear to have some natural protection to the swine flu virus. And while children are disproportionately affected by swine flu, the vast majority make a full recovery – therefore the experts do not advise that children (other than those in at-risk groups) should be vaccinated initially.
New planning assumptions do not take consideration of the vaccination programme which, when it has begun, will help to further reduce the number of people needing hospitalisation. However, the department added, “we ought to not be complacent”. While in the majority of people it is mild, for some this virus can be a serious illness.