Swine flu could grip the country due to “shockingly low” vaccine take-up, according to a senior doctor.
Professor Steve Field, the former chairman of the royal college of General Practitioners predicted the NHS would be inundated with Swine Flu victims, and the lack of a public awareness campaign about the need for seasonal jabs was partly to blame.
Professor Field, was speaking to the Guardian after the Department of Health revealed 302 people were in intensive care with flu. A majority of them were likely to have swine flu.
“Rates of uptake are shockingly low,” Professor Field said. “It was ill-advised not to have the public awareness campaign on seasonal flu jab uptake that we usually have, because we knew that the public and healthcare professionals were likely to become complacent after last year’s swine flu pandemic wasn’t the serious attack on the country that we thought it could be.”
He stressed that NHS workers, pregnant women and those in poor health should have a flu jab, which includes the swine flu vaccine, immediately.
As of Monday this week, there were 24 children under five in critical care with confirmed or suspected flu, another 12 aged five to 15, and 243 in the 16 to 64 age group.
There were also 23 people aged over 65 in critical care.
Already this season, 14 people have died of swine flu and another three from the less serious type B flu.
Last year, 474 people died from swine flu.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley told the Cabinet this week that the NHS had the capacity to deal with the upsurge in cases.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, interim chief medical officer for England, also assured that this season’s flu was ”just winter flu” but with swine flu as the dominant strain.
”We have not got a pandemic,” she said.