As Americans queue for a vaccine that is still in short supply, President Obama has declared swine flu a national emergency.
For some, standing in line at a clinic at Rockville, Maryland, a nasal spray was the available option. “For now, we have plenty of flu-mist. We will let you know when we run out but I don’t anticipate that we will,” a worker told those waiting. Delays in the production and delivery of vaccines are raising fears over H1N1 swine flu. It has already killed more than 1,000 people in America and is widespread in 46 of the 50 US states. In Britain, a nationwide vaccination programme has begun with frontline healthcare staff and a number of “at risk” groups being targeted first. England’s Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson said: “We have got advice from the government’s main vaccine committee that people who have underlying illnesses who would normally get the seasonal flu vaccine need to have this new vaccine as well because they are vulnerable for the complications of flu. Pregnant women are at much higher risk to themselves and their baby of developing complications and we are also taking the precaution of offering the vaccine to health and social care workers so that they can protect themselves from becoming infected and also ensure that we have continuity of important NHS services through the winter.” There were fears that the French football calendar would be disrupted, with at least two Paris Saint Germain players infected. But the team is taking Tamiflu and today’s key match with Marseille will go ahead. “We don’t care about swine flu.” said one young boy, a keen Marseille fan. “We will win all the same. It is not going to frighten us.” In France generally, just 16 percent of people are worried about swine flu, according to a new survey.