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Donaldson "optimistic" over virus

The number of people contracting swine flu is increasing at a slower rate than feared, according to the government's senior medical adviser Sir Liam Donaldson.

And with the introduction of the swine flu vaccination programme, he is optimistic that the jabs will further bolster containment of the virus.

"The good thing about the situation at the moment is we are getting a bit of breathing space with the relatively slow increase in cases to be able to get the vaccine in place," he said.

But he acknowledged it was vital to get the most vulnerable vaccinated as swiftly as possible, adding: "We are actually putting vaccine out at the moment. The deliveries to GPs started last week so people in priority groups will start to get vaccine over the next few weeks.

"We won't finish that programme, because it is nine million people in total to be vaccinated, until the end of November or early December."

When asked on BBC1's Andrew Marr Show whether the vaccine would subsequently be rolled out to under-18s, he said: "We are looking about what to do next when we have enough vaccine to extend it beyond the priority groups."

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Government swine flu advice