100,000 vaccines ordered to battle spread of virus
AN EXTRA 100,000 vaccines have been ordered as rates of swine flu rise.
GPs around the country are also set to be given stocks of last year's leftover swine flu vaccine, with medics fearing that the outbreak will worsen.
The move comes as the HSE issued updated advice on swine flu to schools with 800,000 pupils preparing to go back to class after the extended Christmas break.
Fears have also been expressed that swine flu will spread in hospitals because of overcrowded A&E departments.
Fine Gael's health spokesman leader Dr James Reilly warned: "Acutely ill patients who have been left waiting in overcrowded emergency departments are at enormous risk of contracting swine flu, posing serious risk to their lives.
"An unprecedented number of people are being left for days on trolleys and plastic chairs, waiting for admission. This is putting seriously ill patients at enormous risk of cross-infection from swine flu and other contagious diseases.
"Specifically, patients whose immune systems have been compromised because of cancer treatments, or who have cystic fibrosis, are being left sitting on chairs in overcrowded conditions, for prolonged periods, in close proximity to patients with swine flu."
Dr Reilly urged that whatever measures are necessary must be taken, and taken immediately. "This should include opening up closed wards, even if they have to be staffed by agency personnel on a temporary basis."
Meanwhile, the HSE confirmed that it is to supplement supplies of this winter's seasonal flu vaccine with stocks of the swine flu jab bought last year.
There are still about 900,000 leftover doses of swine flu vaccine in storage, worth about €2.5m.
A spokesperson for the HSE said that it had 30,000 seasonal flu vaccines in stock, and had ordered a further 100,000.
"The HSE will also deliver supplies of Pandemrix, the vaccine used during last year's H1N1 pandemic vaccination campaign to GPs," a spokesperson said.