Southampton General Hospital's ICU on swine flu alert

Daily Echo: A swine flu vaccination A swine flu vaccination

PATIENTS are being admitted to Southampton General Hospital’s intensive care unit with swine flu.

At any one time there have been up to 11 patients with the H1N1 virus on ventilators to keep them breathing.

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The latest figures about critically ill swine flu patients emerged at NHS Southampton trust board’s latest meeting.

The city’s 37 GP surgeries only last week received their first swine flu vaccinations despite the national programme being launched four weeks ago.

Doctors are now contacting the 58,000 at risk patients by letter inviting them to have their jab.

First in the queue for the vaccine will be those aged six months to 65 in at-risk groups – including people with asthma, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and those with a compromised immune system.

This will be followed by all pregnant women and then people living in households with patients who have weakened immune systems followed by anyone over 65 in a conventional at risk group.

GPs are currently planning how to give the jabs to children aged six months to five years following last week’s government announcement to extend the swine flu vaccination programme.

Southampton GP Dr Alex Freeman said: “People in the priority groups for vaccination will be contacted directly by their GP practice in the coming weeks and months and we will offer vaccinations as supplies continue to come in, so we ask the public to be patient.”

Meanwhile Hampshire GP surgeries are currently contacting 223,138 people in at risk groups.

Frontline medical staff across hospitals and GP surgeries have already been offered the vaccine.

The number of swine flu deaths in the UK currently stands at 214.

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