Swine flu vaccine stock released to Cardiff, Vale GPs

Swine flu vaccines are being released to GPs in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan from Monday.

Health officials agreed to release stockpiles of the H1N1 vaccine to meet demand.

The BMA said some south and west Wales GPs found it "extremely difficult" to get seasonal flu vaccines.

These guard against three flu types, including H1N1.

"Because of the prevalence of H1N1 cases we're seeing in the area anyway, the vaccine should do the job for the majority of people," said a Cardiff and Vale University Health Board spokeswoman.

Stocks are running low of the seasonal flu vaccine.

This vaccine protects against three types of flu - H1N1 or swine flu and the A and B flu viruses.

But it was felt releasing the H1N1-only vaccine could at least provide protection to vulnerable groups.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said a mixture of seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccine would be available and where patients could not get seasonal flu vaccine at their surgeries, they would be given the H1N1 Pandemrix vaccine.

Aneurin Bevan Health Board, based in the south Wales valleys, said it has not started using the H1N1 reserve vaccine yet.

They will check again in the morning but so far they still have the seasonal vaccine available.

Dr David Bailey, chairman of the British Medical Association's GP committee for Wales, said the picture was similar across Wales.

"There are still some stocks," he said.

"I know GPs in Gwent and west Wales have been able to get a few more of the seasonal flu vaccine, but by and large over most of Wales it's become extremely difficult to source this from the manufacturers."

Dr Bailey said there are considerable stocks of the swine flu vaccine all over Wales that the government was holding and that it was "entirely sensible" to use it.

"We don't know what's causing all of the minor symptoms, the ordinary flu illnesses, but what we do know is that the vast majority of people who are in intensive care units with complications of flu are there because of the H1N1," he told BBC Radio Wales.

Dr Bailey said there were a number of reasons for the shortage of seasonal flu vaccines, including the amount of people coming forward to have the vaccine because of publicity about complications with flu over Christmas.

Also left-over stocks had been moved abroad, he said.

"There hasn't been a huge surge in the amount of flu that is around," said Dr Bailey. "What there has been is a surge in the amount of complications, the amount of people admitted into intensive health units across the country, which has significantly increased the worry in the public."

Latest figures from Public Health Wales suggest consultation rates for flu across Wales may now be levelling out and will begin to reduce in the next few weeks.


The highest rate has been among the 25 to 34 year age-group.

As of last Wednesday, there had been 12 influenza-related deaths reported to the Welsh Assembly Government.

The chief medical officer wrote to health officials last week to support the swine flu vaccine, stockpiled in 2009, to be used as an alternative.

Health officials were also working with local health boards in Wales to co-ordinate the redistribution of seasonal flu vaccine stocks to cover areas where stocks are low.

Health Minister Edwina Hart said: "Clinicians will be reminded it is important to treat people with antivirals in at-risk groups promptly, preferably within 48 hours of symptom onset, regardless of vaccination status, as no vaccine gives full protection against influenza."

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