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Tuesday, 20 November 2018

NHS issues reassurance over flu jabs and calls on elderly to get vaccinated

Written by Ella Pickover

Health officials have called on the elderly to get their flu jab as it sought to stem fears over a shortage of the vaccine.

Last week concerns were raised that over 65s could be turned away from GP surgeries after a poll found the majority of family doctors said their practice had suffered a shortage of supply.

Seqirus, the sole supplier of the new vaccine for over 65s, phased deliveries to cope with global demand, NHS England said.

But medics raised concerns over phased deliveries.

And a survey of 650 GPs by the GP magazine Pulse found 68.5% said their practice had suffered a shortage.

But NHS England has now issued reassurances that all vaccines have now been delivered as ordered.

It said Seqirus has now despatched the final supplies for England.

Officials also called on people aged 65 and over to get their flu jab in what has been dubbed the NHS' "biggest ever flu vaccination programme".

NHS England said 8.5 million people will be able to receive the vaccine free of charge ahead of winter, including the elderly and other vulnerable groups.

This flu season the elderly are being offered a new vaccine which is said to give them better protection than previous versions.

Professor Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer for England, said: "This is the biggest flu vaccination programme we have ever undertaken offering more people than ever the greatest opportunity to help protect themselves.

"This year three types of vaccine are being used, including the Adjuvanted trivalent flu vaccine, or aTIV, which should give better protection to people aged 65 and over.

"Deliveries of aITV have been going on since September and with all vaccines now despatched to GPs and pharmacies, we are urging those who have not yet had their flu jab to get it as soon as possible.

"Around 8.5 million doses of vaccine have been ordered, with around one million surplus doses available. The current uptake rate in those aged 65 or over is 45.2% so we are keen to see an increase in that figure.

"As well as older adults, and those with long term conditions, we want other at-risk groups such as pregnant women and young children to be protected as well. It's certainly not too late for people to get vaccinated."

Public Health England's medical director Professor Paul Cosford added: "Flu can be extremely serious and can kill the most vulnerable. Vaccination is by far the best defence we have.

"Anyone at increased risk from the effects of flu is offered the vaccine for free.

"Aside from having your flu vaccine, the best way to prevent the spread of flu is to practice good hand hygiene.

"Catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue, throw the tissue away and wash your hands."

Professor Dame Sally Davies, England's chief medical officer, said: "Flu can kill and the vaccine is the single best way to protect yourself and those around you.

"More vaccines than ever before are now available and I strongly encourage everyone in a vulnerable group to contact their GP or pharmacy and get the jab."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) David Cheskin PA Wire.