Swine flu latest from the NHS

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Brought to you by the NHS Knowledge Service

Monday October 5 2009

Coughing or sneezing like this will spread germs

Last updated: 11.00 BST

A large clinical trial to compare two UK swine flu vaccines in children was launched at the weekend. It will assess which vaccine will be most suitable for children to have during the national vaccination programme.

The vaccines, which last week received positive recommendations from the European Medicines Agency health watchdog, will be given to 1,000 children aged six months to 12 years. Following two doses of either vaccine, blood tests will confirm which vaccine stimulates the greatest immune response to the swine flu virus. The testing will also check for potential side effects, although the trial leaders believe any will be mild.

The news comes as the chief medical officer (CMO) announced that the second wave of swine flu has now begun, with the latest official figures showing that swine flu infections are steadily mounting. In the past week there were 14,000 new cases, a 45% increase over the previous week. Schoolchildren were the group most affected.

During his weekly update the CMO, Sir Liam Donaldson, said he expected the vaccine to be available to at-risk patients later this month.

He said, “The good news is, we’ve got the green light to approval of the vaccine at European level and we’re expecting to be able to start administering it in the second part of October."

Weekly update

Other news from the weekly update:

  • There are 286 people in hospital with swine flu, 36 of whom are in critical condition. This is a substantial rise.
  • To date, 84 people with swine flu have died in the UK. There have been 72 deaths in England, nine in Scotland, two in Northern Ireland, and one in Wales.
  • A swine flu vaccine has now received licensing approval, meaning the first doses of the vaccine should be administered in the second half of October.
  • There have been 79 school outbreaks (defined as at least 15% absenteeism or a marked increase in cases) since the pandemic began.


Revised planning assumptions

Flu like illness in England and Wales, week ending September 27

Swine flu medicines

To learn about the medicines used to treat pandemic flu, including the benefits and side-effects, go to the pandemic flu medicine guide.

Reporting side effects

If you take an antiviral and have suspected side effects, first contact your GP to check that you are OK. You can then report your side effects on MHRA's new online system.

It was announced on September 3 that estimates of deaths in the worst-case scenario for swine flu have been lowered. The government's expert advisers on swine flu, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said that new data from the UK, north America, Australia and elsewhere give a better picture of how the virus might spread in the autumn.

The revised planning assumptions have cut the estimated death toll in a worst-case scenario from 65,000 people in the UK to 19,000, assuming that 30% of the population is infected.

These forecasts and others in the report are based on a "reasonable worst case" value and should not be taken as a prediction of how the pandemic will develop. Planning against the reasonable worst-case scenario will ensure, however, that plans for all likely scenarios are robust.

The Department of Health said: “In light of this new information, the estimates for the number of people who might need hospitalisation and the proportion of people with swine flu who could die have been reduced.”

Vaccination should cut hospitalisation

These new planning assumptions do not take account of the vaccination programme which, once it has begun, will help to further reduce the number of people needing hospitalisation. However, the department added, we must not be complacent. While in the majority of people it is mild, for some this virus can be a serious illness.


Advice for antivirals

Several newspapers reported that the World Health Organization (WHO) had changed its advice regarding use of antivirals for swine flu. Its advice suggests that while antivirals should always be given in serious cases, they may not always be necessary for otherwise healthy people.

The papers pointed out that this appeared to differ from the approach taken in the UK, where Tamiflu is being widely used.

However, the Department of Health said:
"We believe a safety-first approach of offering antivirals, when required, to everyone remains a sensible and responsible way forward. However, we will keep this policy under review as we learn more about the virus and its effects.

"The WHO recommendations are in fact in line with UK policy on antivirals. We have consistently said that many people with swine flu only get mild symptoms, and they may find bed rest and over-the-counter flu remedies work for them.”


Vaccinations for the vulnerable

Andy Burnham, the secretary of state for health, has confirmed which priority groups will be given the first doses of swine flu vaccine, which is expected to arrive in October.

Burnham said that the earliest doses of the vaccine would be given to at-risk groups in the following order:

  • People aged between six months and 65 years in the clinically at-risk groups for seasonal flu.
  • Pregnant women, subject to licensing by the European Medicines Agency, which will indicate whether it can be given throughout pregnancy or only at certain stages of pregnancy.
  • Household contacts of people with compromised immune systems.
  • People aged 65 and over in the current seasonal flu vaccine clinical at-risk groups.

The health secretary said: “Although the virus has so far proved to be mild in most people, for others it has been more serious. By vaccinating high-risk groups first, we aim to protect those most vulnerable to this virus.” He confirmed that frontline health and social care workers will begin to be vaccinated at the same time as the first at-risk group.


At-risk groups

At-risk groups will be the same as for seasonal flu vaccination. This includes people with serious heart disease, diabetes, and weakened immune systems due to cancer treatment.

The list has been drawn up according to advice from independent experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which reviewed the evidence and advised the Department of Health on the crucial risk groups to be offered vaccination to help prevent serious illness.

A vaccination programme for the rest of the population will be based on the evolution of the pandemic as well as new clinical data on the use of the vaccine.

People in the priority groups outlined above do not need to take any action yet. Further announcements will be made as the vaccination strategy progresses, and those who need a vaccine will be contacted.


National Pandemic Flu Service

The National Pandemic Flu Service was launched in July. This online service assesses patients for swine flu and, if required, gives them an authorisation number that can be used to collect antiviral medication.

The system, which can also be accessed by phone, will take the strain off GPs as swine flu spreads. For the moment, it is being used only in England.

  • For an explanation of swine flu, its symptoms and treatment, go to Swine flu A-Z
  • For quick questions and answers go to Swine flu Q&A
  • For information in other languages and formats go to Swine flu: other languages
  • To check your symptoms go to the National Pandemic Flu Service
  • “The National Pandemic Flu Service is a new self-care service which will give people with pandemic swine flu symptoms fast access to information and antivirals,” said a Department of Health spokesman.

    “This new service will free up GPs, enabling them to deal with other illnesses that need their urgent attention.”

    The launch of the system brought important changes to the official advice that is given to people who think they may have swine flu. That advice – and the new system – is supported by the Royal College of General Practitioners.


    Latest advice

    If you have flu-like symptoms and are concerned that you may have swine flu, the advice is to stay at home and check your symptoms at the National Pandemic Flu Service.

    Patients with swine flu typically have a fever or a high temperature (over 38°C / 100.4°F) and two or more of the following symptoms:

    • unusual tiredness,
    • headache,
    • runny nose,
    • sore throat,
    • shortness of breath or cough,
    • loss of appetite,
    • aching muscles,
    • diarrhoea or vomiting

    Call your GP if:

    • you have a serious underlying (existing) illness, 
    • you're pregnant, 
    • you have a sick child under one year old, 
    • your condition suddenly gets much worse, or 
    • your condition is still getting worse after seven days (five for a child).

    For people who do not have internet access, the National Pandemic Flu Service can be accessed by phone on:

    Telephone: 0800 1 513 100
    Minicom: 0800 1 513 200

    For more information on the National Pandemic Flu Service, go to Flu Service: questions and answers.

    People in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can visit www.direct.gov.uk/pandemicflu


    Advice for pregnant women

    Pregnant women are one of the higher risk groups for swine flu, as they are for all influenza viruses. It is therefore important for them to take precautions.

    This website provides full and up-to-date advice for pregnant women and parents of young children. The advice has not changed recently and is available at the following links:

    Swine flu advice for pregnant women.
    Swine flu pregnancy and parenting Q&A.
    Swine flu symptoms, including high-risk groups.
    Chief medical officer's advice on pregnancy, holidays, and parents.


    How dangerous is swine flu?

    The vast majority of cases reported so far in this country have been mild. Only a small number have led to serious illness, and these have frequently been where patients have had underlying health problems. 

    Reduce the risk of catching or spreading flu

    • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Use a tissue.
    • Dispose of used tissues carefully.
    • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or alcoholic hand rub.
    • Clean hard surfaces (e.g. kitchen worktops, door handles) frequently using a normal cleaning product.

    There has been an argument put forward that the government should restrict antivirals to those groups who are most at risk of developing serious complications from swine flu. In other words, if people are otherwise healthy, then the NHS should let the virus run its course, treating it with paracetamol and bed rest, as for normal flu.

    However, the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) believes there is still some uncertainty about the risk profile of the virus. For instance, there are reports of some cases in Argentina where young, healthy adults have apparently become extremely ill from swine flu.

    While there is still this doubt, the government has decided to continue offering Tamiflu to everyone with swine flu at their doctor's discretion.

    "We will keep this matter under review, with advice from SAGE," said health minister Andy Burnham.

    You can read the Department of Health's guide for further information on the science of swine flu treatment


    Who is at greatest risk of serious complications from flu?

    Some people are more at risk than others of serious illness if they catch swine flu. They will need to start taking antivirals as soon as they are confirmed with the illness. On occasion, doctors may advise some high risk patients to take antivirals before they have symptoms if someone close to them has swine flu.

    The risk profile of the virus is still being studied but it is already known that certain groups of people are particularly vulnerable. These include:

    • Patients who have had drug treatment for asthma in the past three years
    • Pregnant women
    • People aged 65 years and older
    • Children under five years old
    • People with chronic lung disease
    • People with chronic heart disease
    • People with chronic kidney disease
    • People with chronic liver disease
    • People with chronic neurological disease
    • People with immunosuppression (whether caused by disease or treatment)
    • People with diabetes mellitus


    Why are healthy people over 65 and children not a priority for the swine flu vaccine?

    Healthy people aged over 65 appear to have some natural immunity to the swine flu virus. And while children are disproportionately affected by swine flu, the vast majority make a full recovery - therefore the experts do not advise that children (other than those in at-risk groups) should be vaccinated initially.


    Catch it, Bin it, Kill it

    Although the UK has moved to a treatment phase for swine flu, it’s important that people continue to do everything they can to stop the virus from spreading.

    The most important way to stop it spreading is to have good respiratory hygiene (i.e. sneezing and coughing into a tissue) and hand hygiene (keeping your hands clean). The video Catch it, Bin It, Kill It explains the importance of catching your sneeze in a tissue, placing it quickly in a bin and washing your hands and surfaces regularly to kill the virus.

    What are these?

    nick-ynysmon said on 01 October 2009

    I find all the fuss made about this almost harmless disease quite perplexing. we are repeatedly told it is as harmless as common flue, and 30000 people? die each year alone of this, or something like.
    why are we being offered in fact persuaded to take a vaccine that has barely been clinically proven, that contains, correct me if I am wrong, squaline, and thimersol, the latter contains mercury, these are adjuvents to make the vaccine work more effectively. are they also to poison us as well? does iot contain these ? and aluminium hydroxide also?
    why are we following the WHO guidelines on this, when the illness is almost innocuous?
    if it is as harmless as common flue why then was common flue not made a category 6 pandemic years ago and the same fuss made of this?
    I will not go within ten miles of a flue vaccine and wonder if ,like Jane Burgermeister, there is some agenda unfolding with all of this.
    squaline is a poison and exacerbates many of the bodies immune defenses and may even I am told lead to a cytokine storm or similar. it has also been implicated in gulf war syndrome. am i right?
    why are we then taking these two poisons into our bodies? if the authorities are looking for adverse side effects as they have asked the royal college of neuro surgeons to do, I believe to do, they must suspect something bad could happen to some people. correct me if my facts are not accurate. but understand the gist of what I am saying.
    if we are to be persuaded by intensive advertising and media blitz to get vaccinated, and if it ever comes to compulsory vaccinations I will for one object greatly and will quite happily break the law of it comes to this.
    the whole subject wreaks of manipulation and the augurs look very bad. so far. I hope sincerely I am wrong, but observe all of this very carefully.

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    lambo2000 said on 29 September 2009

    mikemike2004 comments are true.
    I thing that everyone should carry or wear a face mask at all times.Plus also carry a quality pocket size hand stanitizer with them.
    How a thermometer at home as well(how many have one????)

    Its not end of the world but take care of yourself.

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    Vishumonu27 said on 29 September 2009

    I am agree with Mike, if people here in UK start wearing the MASK than it might reduce the spread of flu....Also would like to tell the people that I have been advised that if the patient is not suffering from CONSISTANT HIGH TEMPRATURE than he/she is not having the Swine flu even if they have the symptoms....So this is something I would like to share with you....

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    mikemike2004 said on 27 September 2009

    Why doesn't the NHS encourage people to wear masks like those in the Asian countries such as China and Hong Kong? This "Catch it, bin it, kill it" slogan is only useful if people can actually "catch" the virus. This is a major assumption, in fact, too big of an assumption to make!! How can the NHS expect boys from 10-25 to carry a pack of tissues with them at all times and be responsible people so that they would cover their mouths when they sneeze or cough?? The NHS should unstand that the MASKS ARE WORN in the Asian countries not to stop people from catching the flu but TO STOP PEOPLE INFECTED WITH SWINE FLU FROM SPREADING IT!! People are so alert in those countries (because they have experienced SARS) that anyone who sneeze or cough in public without covering their mouths would receive immediate initimating reception from the others (peer pressure) and quite rightly so because afterall, the disease CAN KILL. In the UK, I can't see the same alertness and i don't think the general public realise the seriousness of this disease. I have seen soooooo many people coughing and sneezing WITHOUT making a slight attempt to catch anything, particularly in poorly ventilated places such as trains and lifts. Even though the flu seems not so lethal, there is nothing to prevent it from mutating into a more hostile form and I seriously cannot see the advice given by the NHS adequate to protect the nation from the pandemic, especially when the winter is fast approaching.

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    choochoo said on 29 August 2009

    A big thanks to caz&sams comment i too have an 18month old although we have been fortunate enough to not get swine flu yet or be in contact with anyone with it i have been concerned about how the diagnosis and treatment would be done on a child of his age as there does not seem to be alot of info about this for under 5`s your comments have shed some light, i now feel i know some of what to expect should we get it.

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    Gill Sellars said on 21 August 2009

    I notice that the American Red Cross has produced a useful leaflet called Home Care for Pandemic flu http://www.readymoms.org/docs/hd_redcross_homecare.pdf. There is also similar leaflets of the American CDC site. Will the NHS be producing similar helpful information to assist individuals during the anticipated next wave of the Swine flu pandemic.

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    concernedj said on 15 August 2009

    I agree with the last comment. I believe any person over six months (including those over 65) in the clinically at-risk groups for seasonal flu should all be in the same priority group (no age discrimination). Priority within this I believe should be based on level of risk to life. I guess the argument is something to do with work - but not all those under 65 do work, and getting Britain out the recession is not so important as lives and the broader needs of society (well at least that is my view)...People over 65 mix socially so, in effect, are just as susceptible to picking up the virus as those at work. Has anyone seen a graph of world death rate from swine flu (per 1000 of population of that age) against age - possibly it is W-shaped like it was with 1918 flu. Also it would be good to see a graph showing the average length of time people of different ages have been ill with flu. Does anyone know of any research in this area that has been published?

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    anarchyintheuk said on 14 August 2009

    Why are people over the age of 65 deemed to be of less importance than people younger?

    * People aged between six months and 65 years in the clinically at-risk groups for seasonal flu
    * Pregnant women, subject to licensing by the European Medicines Agency, which will indicate whether it can be given throughout pregnancy or only at certain stages of pregnancy
    * Household contacts of people with compromised immune systems
    * People aged 65 and over in the current seasonal flu vaccine clinical at-risk groups

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    ~~KupapaDev~~ said on 14 August 2009

    No matter what, those who working in the hospital should be on the top priority. Hospital docs, nurses, cleaners etc, they are actually at the highest risk.

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    concernedj said on 13 August 2009

    Sorry with the comment below I meant to say that in places the NHS webpages says something like ' most people recovery completely in a week' yet on Q&A page in says something like 'most people <start to recover> within a week'. The 5 days you mention I think relates to the time some folk may be sheading the virus (please note I was coughing, sneezing and had runny nose most during week 3 / 4 (at the end of being ill) but I guess might not have been infectious then.

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    concernedj said on 13 August 2009

    I wondered are the priority groups (released today) listed in order or not? My parents are both over 65. One of them is severely immunosupressed and has hardly any white blood cells. Surely prioritising by 'severity of condition' rather than by age is fairer. (The above list is also unclear because it could indicate that those who share a home with someone over 65 who has a compromised immune system might get vaccinated before them). I notice the information on http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Pandemic-flu/Pages/QA.aspx#priority is not prioritsised. PS. On some pages people are being advised symptoms normally disappear normally (for adults) within 5 days - so they can go back to work then, on Q&A page you are saying that most people 'start to get better' within a week....do we know what the truth is - please could go with what is true?

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    BTermin8ted said on 11 August 2009

    I think you should all give the government a break, theyre doing the best they can here and you should respect that they are putting up websites to inform you whats going on. its not right how most of you say, the government telephone line is useless. Well what would we be doing without it running!! take that into consideration

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    deb and karl said on 11 August 2009

    hi, i would be very carefull. my daughter had a temp 40c a small cough, stuffed up nose, although she does suffer from hayfever. So i phoned the doc's alittle worried not really thinking it was swine flu. i phoned the out of hours doctors and he kept going on and on that i had to phone the flu line. I pushed until i got to see a doctor, i believed in my heart she didn't have swine flu. i got to see and doc and he didn't know what was wrong with her, but not at all swine flu, he said 'she wouldn't be standing here like this if it was swine flu' his words, she seemed fine so sent her away with antib's and give her loads of fluids. Low and behold, the next morning she was covered in spots head to toe nasty spots! took her back and she had chicken spots! so if i had off listened to the first doc she would have been on tamiflu and prob made things a whole lot worse. 7 days later she's perfectly fine. I think the whole thing is just wrong.

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    R.Fish said on 10 August 2009

    I called the service on the telephone, I spoke to one chap in particular who was nice and helpful. I have spoken to my friends that have called the service and they did not get to speak to the same person, they were not so lucky. I hope they are paying him double. I felt as though I had been dealt with in a professional manor. At the end of the call I was in no doubt what I had to do and how I had to go about it. I'd gladly contract any disease or virus if I was assured he would deal with it.

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    tigertoes said on 07 August 2009

    Lots of my friends are being diagnosed with Swine Flu back in June my husband and I were very ill together with symptoms of flu if we had the same symptoms now and put into the symptom checker we would be issued without doubt with Tamiflu but I do not believe we had swine flu I am a chronic asthmatic and my husband diabetic both 'high' risk we recovered after 7 days although 10 days before we were A1 again. What happens if you are diagnosed with swine flu, given Tamiflu but then get flu symptoms again in the future will you be allowed tamiflu again? I am frightened of reporting symptoms and having tamiflu if I actually do not have it!!

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    lattemama said on 05 August 2009

    I am 32 weeks pregnant and have been told by Gp, today that i have swine flu. Wonderful! I am concerned though that he is reluctant to give me any anti virals, i am quite badly asthmatic as well and experience problems with my asthma at this stage of my pregnancy. Has anyone else, who's pregnant been given the same advice. I do feel really rotten, but had flu just before christmas, that really knocked me off my feet, so know what to expect. To d78, i went through a stage a couple of weeks ago where i was really paranoid, to the extent that i even considered not going to the supermarket in case i got it. But soon realised that if you are going to get it, then you are going to get it. I am meticulous about washing my hands and using the alcohol hand rub etc, but i have still got it. It is flu and like seasonal flu it will find a way!!

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    caz&sam said on 01 August 2009

    Myself and my 18 month old son currently have swine flu. i phoned the swine flu helpline number and i was recommended tamiflu but my son wasn't. The questions set up completely misdiagnosed my child as when i was asked does he have headache, I replied 'i wouldn't know, he can't talk.' therefore he answered 'no' to the question. Again the next question was does he have a sore throat? Again my answer was the same.And so on. All questions asked and most not answered I was told by the operator he was 'just being a baby!' I was not at all happy by this and with perseverement with my doctors,my own G.P agreed to see my son once the surgery was closed. My son was diagnosed by the doctor with having swine flu plus a secondary of a chest infection. He prescribed tamiflu and antibiotics. We owe a big thank you to this doctor as my child could have got worse. There are probably many more child cases that have been misdiagnosed because of the standard formatting of the questions. Maybe these questions could be changed for children?
    Lastly i also agree about the tamiflu should be available in syrup form as most of my sons gets spat out due to the bitter powder.
    thank you for taking the time to read this
    caroline and sam

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    SaraUK said on 31 July 2009

    To bubble79: You will need to rationalise this for yourself - you have already commented that the media is contributing to your anxiety, so why continue reading what they write? It's up to you whether you pay attention to what is in the media, but there is no point doing anything that will just feed your mental health issues. The media are known for their ability to sensationalise issues - after all, sensational headlines sell more papers! If I were you, I'd stick to reading the facts (check the links on this page for more info). And on another note, I trust you are getting some form of help for your mental wellbeing? I have also suffered in the past with depression and anxiety, but treatment really helped - talk to your doctor, don't sit and wallow.

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    meggy68 said on 28 July 2009

    I live in Southport am in my 40s and suffer from fibromyalgia, I found it difficult to understand I was suffering from swine flue as I often get very tired and achy, but this time I was unusally weak to say the least. So after some days I did ring my GP and told him I was hot, achy, weak, and felt sickly, although I did not have a cough or sneezing but my nose was blocked up a bit. I also had a headache. He told me via phone to take tamiflu and I arranged for my husband to collect it. They are not taking swabs at the moment but do suspect I have swine flue as have not experienced symptoms like this before and did have the flue jab as usual. Any way its been 5 days now and have just taken my last tamiflu tablet but am feeling a bit better but still now 100 percent and still hot and tired, and achy, and have stayed in the house so not to infect others. I do not know my rights with regards to being sick longer than 7 days whether I will need a sick note or not. I work for a local council and dont know if there sickness policy is exempting people from the normal sickness actions they take from having this swine flue. I would be interested to hear from someone who knows any more about our rights, and I am a disabled person so covered under the disability act due to fibromyalgia. Comments welcome.

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    SaraUK said on 28 July 2009

    To RUDIGER: In the UK you self-certify for 7 days, so you don't need a sicknote from your GP unless you have been off for more 7 days (including weekends). Try checking on www.hmrc.gov.uk or www.direct.gov.uk to find out what you can do - there might be a form you can fill in there, if your employer doesn't have one.

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    TedW said on 28 July 2009

    See this page - http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Swineflu/DG_177831 - which states you do not need to provide a note for the first 7 days you are off sick.

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    RUDIGER said on 27 July 2009

    can anyone help. i have been given antiviral drugs today,after going through the online process. when i rang my gp .i was told to do this .(basically dont ring them again thats what the flu service is for!) the first thing my boss wants is a sick note? how can i get this without ringing my surgery? i have checked the flu site.. nothing. seems silly that this helpline is set up to free up GPs time if you have to ring them anyway? to get a sickness certificate.

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    gazdino said on 27 July 2009

    Am I reading this right? Now the nation is suggesting that we make the anti-viral child friendly for kids that haven't developed the ability to swallow? How about putting the powder into some syrup and feeding it yourself, this is not the governments responsibility. The anti-viral is free so how about spending a quid on a jar of syrup and be done with it?

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    Lisa mum of 3 said on 26 July 2009

    my youngest is 5 years old, he had all the symtoms of swine flu, so i did the online checker which told me he was to have tamiflu.
    So i went to get it from my nearest chemist only to find they have only got it in tablet form, even though it is available as a liquid for children.
    Have you ever tried to get a 5 year old to swallow a capsule, its not easy, i think its making him feel worse every time he has to take it which is twice a day.
    We have got to take the powder out of the capsule and put onto a sweet food as it is extremely bitter tasting.
    I dont know how they exspect children to take these tablets it's just utter madness, i want him to get better, but this process would be a whole lot easier if they would supply the correct prescription for kids.

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    D78 said on 26 July 2009

    Hi, I was wondering whether there were more figures available with regards to the number of pregnant women in the UK who have been affected by Swine flu and had no complications.
    The news has only focused on pregnant women who have been admitted to intensive care or died giving birth prematurely.
    I am in my third month of pregnancy and I would find it helpful to know those figures, so that I can assess what the risks are.
    I read the general advice and that includes avoiding crowds if possible. I would really like to attend a couple of crowded events but I really would not want to put myself or my baby at risk.
    Does the NHS have any figures on pregnant women affected by Swine flu?

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    kazzaso said on 24 July 2009

    I just wanted to allay everyones fears really. Im 42, asthmatic. Was in hospital last year with flu, over xmas, so I know the score!
    I started with a cough yesterday, my daughter who is five, has had a cough for a few days, plus a sore throat, no fever. We both started with a fever yesterday, my daughter feeling particularly groggy, but eating and drinking okay. I feel like jelly, my legs ache, taking extra inhalers. Ive started tamiflu today due to my asthma, and extra ventolin, which is working great. I feel much better already, and so does my daughter, apart from snotty noses and coughs we are fine!!
    The NHS service is great, easy to use and very informative. I would expect a mild cold, and thats all in my opnion and believe me, if anyone would get viral pnuemonia I would, as my asthma is that bad.
    im glad I have less chance of getting it in the winter!!

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    SaraUK said on 24 July 2009

    To Debsmk: How exactly could the government produce a vaccine "years ago" for a virus that only infected humans for the first time 3 months ago? It's impossible to have a vaccine ready years in advance - each year, the normal flu vaccine has to be manufactured fresh in order to catch the most recent strains, otherwise the virus will simply mutate into another form that people are not protected against. And as for your comment regarding the epidemic being payback for people who eat animals - you do realise that the "injections" you are pushing for have had to be tested on animals before they become available to the public... right? And in fact, those who eat a healthy balanced diet (which would include proteins from meat, pulses, etc) are probably more likely to cope with the symptoms. I hardly think shutting down the entire country for half a year will stop the spread of infection - unless you enjoy being a prisoner in your own home? People still have to work and live their lives, this is simply another virus and not the end of the world!

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    Piano1949 said on 24 July 2009

    My wife had the flu which lasted approximately a week. She is 55 and very healthy and a fitness enthusiast. I am assuming that I fall into the category of possibly having been a carrier without actually having had symptoms. She is now fully recovered and cycled 26 miles with me yesterday. So that's it, I believe the NHS and the Government are doing everything possible on a day to day basis. Some of the scenarios and comments here I find quite absurd however. Glad I don't have to share an air raid shelter with them (LOL).

    But people are allowed the luxury of irrationality and panic if they so wish. Government and NHS thankfully is not.

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    Maz76 said on 24 July 2009

    I have been ill since about Wednesday, worst headache every, feeling sick, sore throat, hot sweats, stuffy nose and a cough, went onto the checker last night and it said I needed the antiviral drugs. I clicked where to get it in my area, however when my husband went to get it this morning at the Chemist that is supposed to be issuing it, they have told him it will not be set up there until next week!! I phoned my surgery and they told us the nearest collection point is about 7 miles away. My point is, the last thing you need when your feeling like this is to be given a collection point that isn't issuing it yet!! My husband had left work to pick this up for me, luckily my sister in law is going to go to the other pick up point for me (and this time I rang them to make sure they do it!).

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    sheppyboy said on 24 July 2009

    To Claireca1979. Dad and I got swine flu on holiday in Corsica for a few days of intense headaches, sore throat, confusion, difficulty breathing and green thick phlem. Then it was over ... maybe due to the heat of the island. However, that was 6 weeks ago but we both haven't stopped sneezing once a day since then. And now, tonight, 3am, I am back with an outagous sore throat suddenly ... 6 weeks on ... and writing to this column while i wait for the honey and lemon to work and my limbs are beginning to ache ... no temp yet! It could turn out to be a cold but the intensity and racing heart is not fun. Am 44 fit n healthy usually.
    Its interesting you give a time period of 4-6weeks.
    Good luck with your kids.
    Perhaps we have the sneaky swine flu version.
    Best to you and to everyone

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    ABI89 said on 23 July 2009

    I currently have swine flu (although it is not been tested) and am on tamiflu today. Basically I woke up yesterday morning feeling achy, had a high temperature and a sore throat, and started to feel much worse by about midday. I was in so much pain, my body was aching and i could hardly move, my skin was hurting, i felt sick, had a headache, no appetite and the shakes.. at one point i got up to go to the toilet and kept collapsing, probably because i overheated (which was my own fault really)- i was very nearly sick and came out in a cold sweat. So that evening i rang the NHS and they transferred me to a doctor who prescribed me with tamiflu. I have been taking it today along with paracetamol and feel much much better. Still have a bit of a fever etc, but nothing too bad! Basically- everybody reacts to it differently- i don't think i was expecting it to be quite that bad but at the end of the day it just felt like a bad case of flu! I don't think it will last much longer. My advice would be to drink lots and take correct medication- and obviously avoid contact with other people as you'll be fine in no time!! Stop panicking people it's only flu!

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    anva said on 20 July 2009

    I just want to say that I had exactly the same thing as kerry1986 mentioned. I woke up with sore throat, headache and blocked nose. Did not have any temperature but that changed after 3 days and I had internal temperate which is not measurable by thermometer. I woke up sweat every morning and am shivering cold but boiling inside. No one said to me if I have or have not swine flu but was prescribed antibiotics over the phone and my boyfriend had delivered it. I still do not know what I have but I have headache, sore throat and blocked nose for 6 days now and during mornings and evening internal temperature. I'm off from work for 7 days now but still do not feel good at all.

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