Shot in the arm for flu fight
SUFFOLK Park brothers Harrison and Davis Rutter are ahead of the pack.
As thousands of doses of the highly anticipated swine flu vaccine are delivered to North Coast medical centres in preparation for this week's national roll-out, the brothers, aged six and eight, have already had their jabs.
They received their first inoculation last month as part of a nationwide clinical trail of the vaccine.
Their mother, Anne Rutter, said neither boy had shown any serious side effects, and from what she'd heard during her visits to the hospital, all children in the trials were doing well.
“I've seen less side-effects from this vaccine than any other - and they've had them all,” she said.
From Wednesday, anyone aged 10 years or over will be eligible to access the vaccine through their GP.
North Coast Area Health Service director of public heath Paul Corben said deliveries of the vaccine to local GPs, Aboriginal medical services and public hospitals began last Thursday and would continue this week.
Health authorities are urging those most vulnerable to the disease, including front line health care workers, people with underlying chronic medical conditions like diabetes and asthma, pregnant women, indigenous people and parents of children aged 0-6 months, to be vaccinated as soon as possible.
Mr Corben said although there had been a lull in swine flu infection on the North Coast, cases were still being detected.
“Overseas experience had shown the bug did grumble around in the community and it's a good time to be vaccinated before the next flu season when we expect it will be back in higher prevalence.”
There have been two deaths from swine flu on the North Coast and 62 people have been hospitalised.
More than 500 cases have been confirmed, although the real number would be considerably higher, as lab testing of all potential cases was phased out in June.
“Whilst swine flu is mild in most people it can be severe in some and it's important that people vaccinate to protect themselves and other members of the community from getting this disease,” Mr Corben said.
NSW Government Health Minister Carmel Tebbutt said human trials of the vaccine proved it is safe and has minimal side effects.
People wanting to be vaccinated should contact their local GP to find out what arrangements they have made for patients.