The government has signed an agreement to secure supplies of up to 90 million doses of pre-pandemic swine flu vaccine, the Department of Health announced today.
The deals - signed between health secretary, Alan Johnson, and vaccine manufacturers GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Baxter - will enable production of pre-pandemic vaccine to begin as soon as possible.
Under the agreement, there will be enough pre-pandemic vaccine to protect frontline health and social care staff, older people, children, and those in high-risk groups before a pandemic is likely to arrive.
Health secretary, Alan Johnson, said: ‘The localised cases of swine flu found in the UK have so far been mild, and our strategy of containing the spread with anti-virals appears to have been effective in reducing symptoms and preventing further spread of infection.
‘These additional arrangements provide the opportunity, by December this year, to have enough pre-pandemic vaccine to protect at least half of the population from swine flu,’ he added.
If a pandemic is declared, Advance Supply Agreements signed by the government with GSK and Baxter in July 2007 will enable the UK to purchase up to 132 million doses of pandemic-specific vaccine, when it becomes available.