The Swine Flu Second Wave Has Started – More Swine Flu Deaths

An increase in UK swine flu cases suggests that the predicted second wave of the outbreak may have begun. The majority of new cases have been school aged children

Cases in England have risen by a third, with the latest figures show over 5000 a week a week. Doctors are unsure if it will continue at this rate but believe the present upsurge has been caused by children returning to school after the summer holidays.

Three more swine flu-related deaths have occurred in England and two in Scotland. 79 people have died in the England, two in Northern Ireland and one in Wales

In light of the current swine flu pandemic, Muslims have been issued with advice about attending this year’s Hajj, pilgrimage to Mecca. Special advice has been given to pregnant women intending to travel to Mecca

Pregnant women, as well as  people with chronic diseases, the elderly and children are being advised to postpone the Hajj this year for their own safety. Those deciding to travel will need to be vaccinated against seasonal flu a minimum of two weeks before applying for visas.


It has been reported that the World Health Organization (WHO) had changed its advice regarding use of antivirals for swine flu. They now say that antivirals should always be given forserious cases, but may not be necessary for normally healthy people.

However in the UK, it appears that Tamiflu is being used widely. The Department of Health said: “We believe a safety-first approach of offering antivirals, when required, to everyone remains a sensible and responsible way forward. However, we will keep this policy under review as we learn more about the virus and its effects.

“The WHO recommendations are in fact in line with UK policy on antivirals. We have consistently said that many people with swine flu only get mild symptoms, and they may find bed rest and over-the-counter flu remedies work for them.”

Vaccinations for the vulnerable

Andy Burnham, the secretary of state for health, has confirmed which priority groups will be given the first doses of swine flu vaccine, which is expected to arrive in October.

Burnham said that the earliest doses of the vaccine would be given to at-risk groups in the following order:

oPeople aged between six months and 65 years in the clinically at-risk groups for seasonal flu.

oPregnant women, subject to licensing by the European Medicines Agency, which will indicate whether it can be given throughout pregnancy or only at certain stages of pregnancy.

oHousehold contacts of people with compromised immune systems.

oPeople aged 65 and over in the current seasonal flu vaccine clinical at-risk groups.

The health secretary said: “Although the virus has so far proved to be mild in most people, for others it has been more serious. By vaccinating high-risk groups first, we aim to protect those most vulnerable to this virus.” He confirmed that frontline health and social care workers will begin to be vaccinated at the same time as the first at-risk group.

At-risk groups

At-risk groups will be the same as for seasonal flu vaccination. This includes people with serious heart disease, diabetes, and weakened immune systems due to cancer treatment.

The list has been drawn up according to advice from independent experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which reviewed the evidence and advised the Department of Health on the crucial risk groups to be offered vaccination to help prevent serious illness.

A vaccination programme for the rest of the population will be based on the evolution of the pandemic as well as new clinical data on the use of the vaccine.

People in the priority groups outlined above do not need to take any action yet. Further announcements will be made as the vaccination strategy progresses, and those who need a vaccine will be contacted.

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