Swine Flu: A year on from the outbreak

It's been a year since the outbreak of Swine Flu across the country, but our region's NHS is still advising that at risk groups, including pregnant women and under 5s get vaccinated.

The number of new cases has fallen to minimal levels but NHS East of England say it will be the predominant type of flu for the next few years.

On 11 June 2009 The World Health Organisation formally declared a swine flu pandemic and raised the global alert level to six. Over the months that followed the country saw two Swine Flu surges with thousands of people taken ill.

In total, 179,678 people in the east of England were assessed as having Swine Flu by the National Pandemic Flu Service between 23 July 2009 and 10 February 2010 (although the number is thought to be far greater as it doesn’t include those assessed by GPs and those who self-treated). Of those diagnosed with Swine Flu in the region, 121,703 made use of the Anti-Viral Collection Points.

Although it was a mild flu virus for most, there were some severe cases and deaths.

Dr Linda Sheridan, Deputy Regional Director of Health Protection, is keen for people to remain vigilant against Swine Flu saying: “Swine Flu remains in the community and is likely to remain the predominant flu virus for the next three to four years.

“It particularly poses a risk to the under fives, those with long term conditions, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems. I would like to reiterate that these people should still have the swine flu vaccine, if they have not already, as it will give them the best protection against the virus in the future. The specific Swine Flu vaccine will continue to be available to these groups through GP surgeries until September this year.

“From September, the national seasonal flu vaccine programme will begin and this year the vaccine will give protection against swine flu and two other strains of flu virus.”

National Swine Flu Service information line continues to operate and can be contacted on 0800 513513.