08:28 14 July 2009
The British population will be offered a free swine flu vaccination in the wake of a predicted worst case scenario of up to 100,000 new cases a week.
This move follows the first death of a UK patient who didn't have any underlying health issues.
The vaccines (estimated to cost the Exchequer 88m) will be administered through GPs or via a network of 121 swine flu clinics.
The clinics, which will open 12 hours a day and seven days a week, will be provided in public buildings and sports halls.
Experts are drafting a priority list of patients to be given immunity, in the biggest vaccination programme for 50 years.
The aim is to fast track the vaccine to see everyone protected by next year before the virus gains strength.
Sufficient amounts of the vaccine are to be made available in the late summer or early autumn, the Health Services Executive (HSE) have confirmed.
Peter Holden, the British Medical Association's lead negotiator on swine flu, stated: "High-risk groups will be done at GPs' surgeries. We want to get cracking before a second wave, which is traditionally more virulent."
The Department of Health has ordered 130 million doses to inoculate the entire population with a proposed two jabs each. The spokesman said: "We don't buy it if we do not intend to use it. Offering vaccinations has always been part of our plans to protect as many people as possible.
"The Department of Health has signed contracts with manufacturers to supply enough vaccine for the whole population once it has been developed.
"We expect the first batches of vaccines to arrive by early autumn, with around 60 million doses available by the end of the year - enough for 30 million people."
The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the flu to be a Level 6 pandemic last month.
Swine flu symptoms include fever, coughing, runny nose, sore throat, body aches, chills, headache and tiredness, vomiting and diarrhoea.
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