Doctor calls for vaccine debate

The head of NHS Bassetlaw has spoken of the “tragic” death of Worksop man Martin Moore, who died last month after contracting swine flu.

In a video interview with the Guardian, Dr Philip Foster, a Retford GP and medical director of NHS Bassetlaw, called for a debate about the national swine flu immunisation programme.

Dr Philip Foster, Medical Director for NHS Bassetlaw (w110209-2)

Dr Philip Foster, Medical Director for NHS Bassetlaw (w110209-2)

“At the moment the national programme does not take into account people who are fit and well and that is something which I think we have to have a debate about,” said Dr Foster.

Worksop father of two Martin Moore, 42, died last month after battling the virus.

He was young, fit and healthy but the virus ravaged his body and left him in intensive care.

He battled for weeks on a specialist ward in Cambridge but the damage to his lungs and heart was irreparable.

His death raises questions about whether more people should be vaccinated each year.

Currently only the over 65s, pregnant women and people with underlying health problems are considered ‘at risk’ and are routinely vaccinated.

Dr Foster said: “I think we all accept the tragedy of someone dying young, fit and well. That is a terrible tragedy to happen.”

“For the rest of us it is really important that those of us who are eligible to be immunised should be immunised.”

He said the uptake of the vaccine was about 70 per cent in Bassetlaw, which is around average, and GP practices still have stocks available.

Stocks of flu vaccinations have been low in other parts of the country. But Dr Foster said that was not the case here.

“Practices still have vaccines available and if you still feel you want to have a vaccination and you are in the eligible group you can do so,” he said.

His advice for anyone who thinks they have flu is to stay at home to avoid spreading it around.

“The initial treatment for swine flu is to recognise you’re not feeling well, go to bed, take paracetamol regularly and plenty of fluids.”

“Usually within 24 to 48 hours you start feeling better.”

He urged people to seek medical help if the symptoms last longer.

“Don’t go about spreading it. People who think they are being brave by going to work with flu actually aren’t doing any favours to anybody,” he said.

“They need to practise good hygiene as well. It’s all about Catch It, Bin It, Kill it which is the national advertisement programme.”

The slogan encourages people to catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue, throw it away and kill the germs by washing your hands.