The swine-flu vaccination programme will be rolled out over the next few weeks, with GP surgeries receiving deliveries from next Monday (26 October 2009).
From today (Wednesday 21 October 2009), NHS hospitals will begin vaccinating frontline healthcare workers and their patients who fall into at risk categories.
The following at-risk groups will be prioritised in the following order (numbers given are approximate and are for England only):
People aged over six months and under 65 years in current seasonal flu vaccine clinical at-risk groups (about 5 million people).
All pregnant women (about 0.5 million people).
Household contacts of people with compromised immune systems, eg, people in regular close contact with patients on treatment for cancer (about 0.5 million people).
People aged 65 and over in the current seasonal flu vaccine clinical at risk groups (about 3.5 million people). This does not include otherwise healthy over 65s, since they appear to have some natural immunity to the virus.
GP surgeries will be required to contact patients who fall into one of the at-risk categories.
The GSK vaccine (Pandemrix) will be offered to the vast majority of people. It has been licensed and approved by the European regulators. Most people will need only one dose of this vaccine for protection.
Health Secretary Andy Burnham, said: "Our best line of defence against swine flu is the vaccine. I'm very pleased to say that the UK is one of the first countries in the world to start vaccinating against this virus."
"We would be if we knew exactly when we were going to have sufficient supplies of the vaccine, needles, syringes and sharps boxes and if the postal strike is going to be off or on! Our seasonal flu campaign went without a hitch again this year, but we were in control of our supplies ..."– Name and address withheld