Clinical testing continues into the Swine Flu vaccine which will be available to the Mayo public in coming months. In all it will take nine months for the vaccine to be administered to the whole community, once it is licensed in Europe.
At least five European countries are conducting clinical trials into the vaccine, a meeting of the HSE regional health forum heard on Tuesday.
Dr Diarmuid O’Donovan, director of public health, told members it is believed the risk of the flu will be worse than the risk of the vaccine. He also stressed that the seasonal flu vaccine, which is currently available to over 65s and at risk groups, doesn’t protect against the pandemic flu.
Once licensed, the vaccine will be rolled out in Mayo, Galway and Roscommon simultaneously at designated centres, yet to be decided.
Tony Canavan, general manager of Mayo General Hospital, said management were not expecting any lack of co-operation among health staff who will be one of the first groups to receive the vaccine. However, Dr Sean Conroy, director of the regional health office, said it was not compulsory for staff to take the vaccine.
Once the vaccine is available to health staff it will be advertised and will take only approximately five minutes to administer.
Dr Donovan said it was not yet known if persons who have already contracted the virus were immune to it and he said the advice is, if you have symptoms, don’t sit in a waiting room for long periods exposing other people to the virus, ring your doctor for advice.
In most cases, Dr Donovan said, paracetamol or Neurofen would be the only medications necessary to keep temperatures down. Not every person who contracts swine flu will need the anti-viral drugs.