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Skepticism Over Vaccine Roll-
Out Is Leading To A 'Mini Crisis'

Skepticism among front line health staff has led to a "mini crisis" over the roll-out of the new swine flu vaccine.

Last year only one in five doctors and nurses chose to have the seasonal flu jab.

But in some hospitals, such as Northampton, less than 6% of nurses had the jab.

Front line health workers are among the "at risk" groups being offered the vaccination when it arrives this week.

Hospital managers in the East are trying to persuade NHS staff to be vaccinated to protect themselves and reduce the risk to vulnerable patients.

But an NHS action plan adopted across Essex states: "In effect we are facing a mini MMR crisis where people are being influenced by negative media coverage (and in this case, reinforced by staff scepticism) to believe it is safer to suffer the illness than take a chance with immunisation."

Jan Yates, public health improvement director at Mid Essex Primary Care Trust (PCT), said: "There was a particular problem with MMR where there was a scientific paper published which was rebutted.

"There is no particular problem with the seasonal flu vaccine we have had every year.

"The swine flu vaccine has been tested in exactly the same way."

Dr Tim Morton, a GP in Suffolk, has already had his seasonal flu jab and has been put forward by the NHS as a swine flu champion.

"If my patients see that I am having it, I am well, and I feel it is very important, then hopefully by my example I can encourage my patients to follow suit," he said.

The NHS has spent months planning for this pandemic and the number of critical care beds across the region is being doubled to 500.

A second wave of the virus is thought to be under way. In the East there were 6,000 suspected cases last week.

A seventh person, who had swine flu and is believed to be from the east of England, has died in hospital.

The Department of Health has warned that the NHS faces a potentially severe strain on its services as the annual winter pressures combine with a surge in cases.

A successful roll-out of the vaccination programme is seen as critical to hospitals ability to cope in a crisis.

* A full list of h1n1 vaccine ingredients, alerts and warnings.

Reference Source 108
October 20, 2009


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