Britain gives last year’s vaccines to flu hit people

January 7th, 2011 - 8:59 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 7 (IANS) British physicians have started giving patients doses of last year’s leftover swine flu vaccine to try to overcome the present shortage, as the toll from this winter’s outbreak rose to 50 people.The department of health approved the move Thursday, but the opposition Labour said it was further evidence of ministers being “slow to act at every stage”, The Guardian reported.

The government is releasing 12.7 million doses of the Pandemrix swine flu vaccine, left over from the 2009-10 period, when an outbreak killed nearly 500 people.

John Healey, the shadow health secretary, said: “This is a sensible step, but once again late in the day from a government that has been slow to act at every stage of this flu crisis.”

Eleven more people died from flu last week, taking the toll from 39 to 50. Of those, 45 deaths were due to swine flu, and the other five were influenza B.

Of the 48 cases where details were known, 33 people were in an “at-risk” group because they had an underlying medical condition such as diabetes, obesity or a breathing condition, or were pregnant.

Among the dead, five people were aged under five, eight were aged five to 14, 33 were aged 15 to 64, and four were older than 64.

The number of people receiving critical care in hospital because of serious complications brought on by flu also rose from 738 to 783.

Last week, fewer people went to see their doctor with flu-like illnesses - the rate dropping from 124 to 98 per 100,000 people.

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