WESTBURY is well placed to cope with any upsurge in swine flu cases over the winter, says a local GP surgery manager.
Debbie Rutherford, practice manager at the Eastleigh Surgery says that should another surge in swine flu cases occur during ‘flu season’ medical providers are much better prepared to cope.
Debbie said, “At the moment things are nowhere near as bad as they were in July, when things were at their worst. In July demand [for Tamiflu] shot through the roof. This was also before the national advice line was in place of course. Now the infrastructure is much better than it was then to deal with swine flu.”
The vaccine for the H1N1 virus is due to be distributed nationally by the end of October, with priority groups due to start receiving innoculations immediately.
Sarah MacLennan, NHS Wiltshire communications manager, said, “We have been told to expect the vaccine by the 19th of October.
“As soon as we get it it will be administered to groups of people most at risk. It will definitely be getting administered by the end of the month.”
Sarah added that those groups that are priorities for vaccination will be notified by their GPs Priority groups will include pregnant women and those with chronic illnesses such as chronic heart disease, lung disease and diabetics. Those aged over 65 will not be a priority group, unless they are suffering from one of the designated at-risk conditions.
Elderly people have so far seemed to have some natural resistance to the infection, which is more prevalent in younger people. Similarly healthy children will not be a priority group as most affected by swine flu make a full recovery. It is hoped that the jabs could start being administered in Westbury by the start of November.
Debbie added, “As soon as we get the vaccine we will be following the guidance from the PCT as to who they want to be vaccinated as a priority. Things change on a daily basis but we will be moving forward with the vaccination programme as set out by NHS Wiltshire.”
The NHS has made plans of how to deal with a spike in swine flu during winter, preparing for the ‘worst case’ scenario of 30% of the population experiencing symptoms, but has stressed this is not a prediction.
Meanwhile the flu jab programme for non-swine flu will continue as normal. On Saturday 10th October Eastleigh Surgery vaccinated around 1,700 patients against seasonal flu.
Debbie said, “It was great. We want to say that we are very grateful to the patients who came in and spread themselves across the day.”