Guernsey flu vaccine stock 'virtually ran out'

Dr Stephen Bridgman
Image caption Dr Bridgman said those who got the jab last year should get re-vaccinated

The arrival of 2,000 influenza vaccinations in Guernsey came as the Bailiwick had "virtually run out", according to health authorities.

The vaccine, which includes H1N1 (swine flu) and influenzas A and B, is only for people older than 60 and is due to be distributed to GPs on Monday.

The Health and Social Services Department said only those in "at risk" groups would be eligible for the jabs.

About 10,000 "at risk" islanders have already had the seasonal flu vaccine.

"At risk" groups include the elderly, pregnant women and people with heart problems, diabetes, lung/liver/renal diseases and those with weak immune systems.

The island has also got 6,300 doses of an alternative vaccine, called Pandemrix, that only protects against swine flu, but unlike the triple vaccine can be used by people aged under 60.

The department said the general public would only be offered the vaccines once it was satisfied all "at risk" people had been covered.

Dr Stephen Bridgman, the director of public health, said: "The data and advice we are receiving from the UK indicate that the vast majority of serious flu-like illnesses are proving to be the H1N1 strain, commonly known as swine flu, rather than the other strains.

"Even those in the 'at risk' groups who had the swine flu jab last winter and have not had the seasonal flu jab this winter should still take the opportunity to have the Pandemrix vaccination.

'Severe illness'

"Admittedly it will not protect you against the other flu strains circulating at the moment, but swine flu is the predominant strain occasionally causing severe illness and so it would be wise to at least protect against that one."

So far this winter there have been three confirmed cases of swine flu in the Bailiwick, all of which are described as recovered or recovering well.

The health department has reiterated its recommendation that parents keep their children off school if they are showing signs of flu-like illness - such as coughs, runny nose, headaches, aching limbs and lethargy.

It added it was important everybody maintained good respiratory and hand hygiene, such as covering nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, properly disposing of the tissue and washing hands as soon as possible afterwards.

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