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Football fans urged to get swine flu jabs

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Football fans heading to the World Cup in South Africa are being urged to have swine flu vaccinations to protect themselves during the country’s flu season.

Anyone travelling to the southern hemisphere should have the vaccine to protect themselves as the region enters its flu season, according to the Department of Health.

Holidaymakers can also get the jab now to guard themselves against the UK flu season later this year, it said.

According to Government experts, it is highly likely that the pandemic H1N1 strain seen in the UK this winter will remain the predominant strain for the forthcoming 2010/2011 flu season.

Last month South Africa’s health minister Aaron Motsoaledi warned the country faced a possible health crisis if the swine flu outbreak struck during the World Cup.

Another 10 deaths linked to swine flu have been confirmed in England over the last two weeks, taking the England total to 342 deaths. Across the UK there have been 457 deaths since the pandemic began.

Sixty five patients are currently in hospital in England with swine flu, including 14 in intensive care.

Sir Liam Donaldson, the chief medical officer for England, said: “The next flu season in the southern hemisphere will be starting soon and the pandemic flu virus is expected to return.

“Travellers should protect themselves by getting the vaccine well before they travel.

As of today, more than 13 million doses of the swine flu vaccine have been sent to GP surgeries and hospitals in England.

It is estimated that 405,000 doses have been given to health workers while people in priority groups - such as those with asthma or diabetes and the under-fives - have received 4.74 million doses.

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