Priority groups identified for swine flu vaccine

The swine flu vaccination campaign will initially target people who are at greatest risk from the disease, the government has revealed.

The following groups, in order of priority, will be strongly encouraged to undergo vaccination:

  • People aged between six months and 65 years who usually receive the seasonal flu jab
  • Pregnant women (subject to licensing)
  • People who live with an immunocompromised person
  • People aged 65 and over who usually receive the seasonal flu jab

Frontline health and social care workers will also be offered vaccination. In total, the target population amounts to around 14 million people.

Healthy people over the age of 65 and children are not considered priorities for vaccination as the former seem to have some natural immunity to the swine flu virus, and the latter almost always make a full recovery from the disease.

The immunisation programme will begin once the vaccine, currently being tested in clinical trials, has been licensed by the European Medicines Agency. "In October we expect, provided the licence is granted, to be able to give the first shots of vaccine," says Chief Medical Officer Liam Donaldson.

The evolution of the pandemic and the effects of the vaccine will be monitored to determine whether vaccination should be offered to the wider healthy population.

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