In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

H1N: Scottish Health Secretary Sturgeon Welcomes Agreement with GPs to Provide Vaccination

Posted by seumasach on October 1, 2009

It appears that the  H1N1 swine flu vaccine contains thimerosal, a mercury based preservative. Nicola Sturgeon put the following motion before the Scottish Parliamnet in 2003:

That the Parliament notes with concern that thirteen vaccines currently available in the United Kingdom, including four that are administered to children, contain thimerosal, a compound 50% comprised of ethyl mercury and already banned in the United States of America; further notes the fears of a link between thimerosal and conditions such as autism and Alzheimer’s disease, and considers that the Scottish Executive should take steps to eradicate thimerosal from vaccines available in Scotland and, in the meantime, inform the public about the availability of vaccines that do not contain thimerosal.

She is about to attempt to have 1.4 million Scots injected with it

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has welcomed the agreement that the H1N1 vaccination programme for priority groups will be administered by GPs, following successful negotiations between the Departments of Health, General Practitioners Committee and NHS employers.

The new deal will mean that GPs will receive £5.25 per dose of vaccine given, allowing GPs to contact patients, administer the vaccine and, if necessary, take on extra staff.

While it is currently expected that patients will receive two doses of the vaccine, this advice may change once clinical trials have been completed.

A total of 1.3 million people are in the Scottish priority groups for the first stage of the vaccination programme.

It is expected the vaccination programme will begin next month, subject to the vaccine being licensed by the European Medicines Agency (EMEA).

Further details of the programme will be announced in the coming weeks.

Ms Sturgeon said:

“I am pleased a successful outcome has been reached. This will allow us to press on with implementing our vaccination plans. Vaccination is the best defence we have against the H1N1 virus.

“The cost represents a good deal for both sides, offering a substantial saving on the normal rate for the seasonal flu vaccination, whilst still covering GP practices’ additional costs in administering the vaccine.

“Scotland will be one of the first countries in the world to receive the vaccine supply thanks to contracts put in place before this outbreak.

“We are procuring enough vaccine supply for 100 per cent of the population.

“I strongly urge people in the at risk groups and frontline health and social care workers to have the vaccine.

“People should be reassured that the NHS in Scotland and its partner agencies are continuing to do everything they can to minimise the impact of this outbreak.

“Everyone can play a part in minimising the spread of flu-like illness by washing their hands and catching coughs and sneezes in a tissue.”

Dr Dean Marshall, chairman of the BMA’s Scottish General Practitioners Committee, said:

“I am pleased that we have reached agreement on the delivery of the vaccination to the at risk population. General practice is an efficient and adaptable model that reaches into every community in Scotland and is best placed to deliver the vaccination. GPs are used to delivering large scale vaccination programmes that target patients at highest risk and this agreement means that GPs and their teams will have the resources they need to take on the additional workload and run the vaccination programme smoothly and efficiently.”

Dr Ken Lawton, Chair of the Royal College of GPs Scotland:

“I am delighted that agreement has been reached between the GPC and Departments of Health on this vital public health matter. I look forward to proceeding towards the vaccination roll-out as soon as possible. We will continue to work closely with the BMA and the Scottish Government on this and all other issues concerning pandemic flu.”

The vaccination programme is expected to begin in the autumn, subject to the vaccine being licensed by the European Medicines Agency. The agency has strict processes in place for licensing pandemic vaccines. The vaccine will not be used until it is licensed. Manufacturers anticipate that licenses may be granted in October. Vaccination will commence as soon as possible once licences are granted.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation reviewed the evidence and advised the Department of Health on the crucial risk groups to be offered vaccination in order to reduce the rate or possibility of serious illness.

This advice was also scrutinised and endorsed by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

Decisions on vaccinating the wider healthy population will depend on the evolution of the pandemic as well as new and emerging clinical data on the use of the vaccine. This will be kept under close review.

The Department of Health (DH) has placed orders for sufficient H1N1 swine flu vaccine for the UK population. The orders are with GSK and with Baxter.

The following groups will be prioritised in this order:

* People aged over six months and under 65 years in current seasonal flu vaccine clinical at-risk groups.
* All pregnant women, subject to licensing conditions on trimesters
* Household contacts of people with compromised immune systems e.g. people in regular close contact with patients on treatment for cancer
* People aged 65 and over in the current seasonal flu vaccine clinical at-risk groups. This does not include otherwise healthy over 65s, since they appear to have some natural immunity to the virus

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