Flu vaccines still available in South Holland

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AT risk patients are being told that vaccines are still available to protect them against flu this winter.

Although surgeries in South Holland are saying that the number of patients suffering from flu are what they would expect at this time of year, nationally 50 people had died up to last Thursday and the number was still expected to rise.

Pregnant women are particularly being urged to take up their GP’s offer of an immunisation as they are at risk of severe disease if they catch swine flu, which is one of the strains currently circulating.

Grant Scott, practice manager at Spalding’s Church Street Surgery, said: “So far we have vaccinated the vast majority of our at risk patients, about 3,500 people, although we would still urge those who haven’t had the jab to contact the surgery as soon as possible.

“Because of that stocks are a little low but we have enough to keep pace with any additional patients requiring them.

“The primary care trust is looking across the board and is moving stocks around to where they are needed so we do not anticipate any real problems.”

NHS Lincolnshire reassured those who still haven’t been vaccinated that stocks were reviewed last week and 11,000 doses are still available, which it says is “sufficient”, although it will continue to monitor the situation.

Nigel Kenward, practice manager at Littlebury Medical Centre, Holbeach, said the surgery’s stocks of vaccine are slightly low and said those who still haven’t had one should get in touch quickly as they will be given on a first come, first served basis.

He said the surgery had been “busy but not crazy” treating patients with flu and said levels of patients taking up jabs has been about the same as in previous years.

Mr Scott added that as well as those suffering from flu, GPs have seen high numbers of patients with coughs and colds and urged people to self-treat where possible as antibiotics are not effective treatments for viral infections.

That advice was echoed by NHS Lincolnshire, which urged patients not to attend GP surgeries or the A&E department unless they are “severely ill” with added health complications because services are stretched.

As well as pregnant women, at risk patients include the over 65s and those with long term conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and kidney and liver disease.