Page last updated at 05:04 GMT, Monday, 26 October 2009

GPs to receive swine flu vaccines

Swine flu advertising campaign
The government's autumn swine flu campaign will also run on TV

Swine flu vaccines are starting to arrive at GP surgeries so that 12m "priority" patients can be immunised.

The supplies will allow UK family doctors to start offering the jab to people with health problems or damaged immune systems and pregnant women.

Vaccinations began last week for seriously ill hospital patients and the health staff caring for them.

Meanwhile an advertising campaign about how easily the H1N1 virus can spread has been launched in newspapers.

Under the slogan Catch It, Kill It, Bin It, it shows a father travelling home from work, sneezing and spreading germs as he goes.

School outbreaks

Health Secretary Andy Burnham said the "crucial" vaccination of at-risk groups was well under way but would take time to reach everyone.

"Helping to stop the spread of flu is easy, simply by covering your nose and mouth with tissues when you cough and sneeze, throwing the tissue away and washing your hands really cuts the chances of spreading the virus," he said.

There have been 108 swine flu-related deaths across the UK, with 83 deaths in England, 16 in Scotland, four in Wales and five in Northern Ireland
To 11 October, 4,735 swine flu-related deaths worldwide have been recorded by the World Health Organization
The worldwide swine flu outbreak is officially the first flu pandemic for 40 years

So far just over 100 people with swine flu have died in the UK out of about 500,000 who have been infected.

The spread of the virus peaked during the summer but in recent weeks the number of cases has started climbing again, particularly in schools.

Sir Liam Donaldson, the government's chief medical officer, has urged everyone in the priority groups and NHS and social care staff to have the vaccine.

The vaccination programme is likely to take at least two months to complete and is being run at the same time as the seasonal flu campaign, forcing many surgeries to take on extra staff.

Two vaccines will be used - one manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the other by Baxter.

The GSK one will be offered to most patients, while the Baxter vaccine is being generally reserved for people with egg allergies as the GSK jab was made using chicken eggs.

Most patients will require only one dose of the vaccine, although children and those receiving the Baxter version will need two doses, three weeks apart.

The government has yet to decide whether the rest of the population will be immunised, although enough doses have been ordered.

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