A SWINE flu helpline, which has received hundreds of calls from Huddersfield people, ended early today.
The National Pandemic Flu Service has been be de-activated – seven months after being set up to deal with an expected mass outbreak.
But the worst-case scenario failed to materialise and the numbers of swine flu victims was far less than feared.
Health chiefs in Huddersfield, however, are still urging caution. People who think they may have symptoms of swine flu will still be able to check information online. Any residents in Kirklees particularly those most at risk, who think they have symptoms of swine flu, are advised to stay at home and contact their local GP.
The shutdown of the helpline comes two months after a special dispensary set up to distribute antiviral drugs was closed down in Cambridge Road, Huddersfield.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “The special unit which assesses a patient’s symptoms through trained advisors on a 24-hour health hotline before, if required, authorising antivirals, is being stood down having successfully taken the strain off primary care services, such as doctors and nurses, throughout the swine flu pandemic.”
At the peak of the outbreak in November and December last year, an average of 120 people a week were reporting in Kirklees with symptoms of swine flu.
That slowed to about 50 per week in January and to 33 in the first week in February.
Despite falling levels of swine flu across Kirklees, vaccination is still being recommended by NHS Kirklees for those people who have been identified by the Department of Health as being most at risk from swine flu.
The priority groups for vaccination include people with certain underlying illness, such as asthma, chronic heart disease, chronic renal disease, illnesses of the nervous system, cancer and diabetes; pregnant women; health and social care workers; and all children aged between six months and under five years.
Dr Judith Hooper, Director of Public Health for NHS Kirklees and Kirklees Council, said: “With the de-activation of the National Pandemic Flu Service and despite levels of swine flu activity currently being low across Kirklees, it’s important we remain vigilant.
“Some people have become very ill with swine flu and the most effective way of protecting people who are most ‘at risk’ is through immunisation.
“I strongly advise people deemed to be most ‘at risk’ of complications to consult their local GP about swine flu vaccination as soon as possible.’’