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Independents' Day

Swine flu vaccine given green light

By Gareth Iacobucci

The European Medicines Agency has given the green light for the swine flu vaccination to be granted European-wide authorisation.

The Agency's recommendation to the European Commission means the two vaccines are close to gaining a full license, which will allow a full UK vaccination programme to be carried out by GPs this autumn.

The Commission is expected to make a decision shortly on whether to grant marketing authorisations for the Focetria (Novartis) and Pandemrix (GlaxoSmithKline) vaccines.

If formal licensing is granted, vaccination campaigns will proceed across Europe, including the 9.5m UK patients prioritised for vaccination.

Under the UK plans, laid out last week, GPs will first of all be expected to focus on vaccinating five million patients aged between six months and 65 years who are in the clinical at-risk groups for the seasonal flu programme.

They will then target half a million pregnant women, followed by half a million household contacts of people with compromised immune systems, and then the 3.5 million over-65s seasonal flu risk groups.

The Committee is currently recommending a two-dose vaccination schedule, at an interval of three weeks, for adults, including pregnant women, and children from six months of age. But it acknowledged that there are preliminary data suggesting that one dose may be sufficient in adults.

The Agency is expecting further data from ongoing clinical studies over the coming months and said its recommendations may be updated in this period.

Swine flu

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