Number of pensioners taking free flu jab falling


Professor Nick Phin from the Health Protection Agency "It is grown in hens' eggs and this year's strain took longer to grow"

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Many potential flu victims have not been vaccinated despite winter approaching, according to new figures.

The number of over 65 year olds who have been vaccinated has fallen since last year, as has the the number of younger "at risk" patients.

As of last week, only 48.9% of over 65s had been given the jab, compared with 54.8% in the same period of 2011.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "As winter approaches, we should all be on our guard against health problems."

The Department of Health (DoH) says around 4,700 people die every year in England, after getting flu.

People in at-risk groups - such as pregnant women - are 11 times more likely to die than someone who is not in an at-risk group.

Start Quote

Our campaign aims to encourage people who are most at risk from flu, who have put it off or who don't think it is important, to get the vaccine”

End Quote Anna Soubry Public Health Minister

The DoH has therefore launched a campaign to encourage at-risk groups to get vaccinated and a new website, called Winterwatch, will be launched later this month to provide winter-related health data.

Public Health Minister Anna Soubry said: "We have taken the decision this year to run a flu campaign because too many people in at-risk groups have not come forward for the jab yet, although local campaigns have been running for the past month.

'£42m cost'

"Our campaign aims to encourage people who are most at risk from flu, who have put it off or who don't think it is important, to get the vaccine."

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "Each year the cold weather is responsible for an increase in deaths and thousands of cases of flu, falls, heart attacks and strokes.

"In past years, these extra pressures have cost the NHS £42m in emergency admissions alone.

"As winter approaches, we should all be on our guard against health problems - by taking simple steps and looking after our older friends and family we can keep warm and well."

Flu is generally just means taking time off work for most people but certain at-risk groups are prone to developing potentially fatal complications, such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

One upward trend is in the number of pregnant women receiving the flu jab this year - around 25%, compared to 13.6% by this week in 2011.

Louise Silverton, director for midwifery for the Royal College of Midwives, said: "Women must also be aware of the importance of having the seasonal flu vaccination as soon as they become pregnant.

"If any pregnant woman is unsure about this, I would urge them to speak to their midwife or doctor to discuss the issue.

"For women after their 28th week of pregnancy, they should ask for the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccination when they visit the GP."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    27. moggy
    "Disease, it's nature's way of telling you to get off the planet, it's also a significant part of evolution, people shouldn't thwart it!!!!"

    You won't be saying that next time you get an avoidable disease, especially if it is fatal.

    Anyway, I think you will find evolution will be working on us in different ways. How many folk die in accidents or commit suicide before they can breed?

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    had mine :) why tempt fate? My goal is to grow older even more disgracefully. besides I don't have much choice, I went to the doc for my normal diabetes check up and he just said "hey you roll up that sleeve" He is younger and bigger than me, I decided best to just shut up and get it done LOL.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    How strange that those who don't want to have the 'flu jabbed have their comments rated negatively by others. Does everyone have to "go with the flow" of opinion?

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    I'm asthmatic. Never had a flu jab. This year my GP was like Mrs Doyle from Father Ted..... 'Ahhhh go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on....', he even did the injection himself because the nurse was fully booked.

    Had it, Wednesday, felt a little rough for 2 days, now back to full health, no big deal for the cover it does give, a reasonable trade-off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    27. moggy

    Influenza is a virus not a disease it mutates to become more successful & we as a species need to keep up, its a God given ability in the same way natural selection works.

    We have every right to fight it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    I have seen no reminders this year and unless you go to your GP surgery it will have passed you by. No wonder numbers have fallen. Flu is very nasty and can take a month to fully recover from, even for otherwise healthy, fit, younger people. DoH on the back foot - short term saving by not running campaign could turn into much higher cost if more elderly or vulnerable people fall victim to flu

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Your daughter should be registered at her Uni Health Centre and be getting the letter from there. Having said that, my son has a friend who went to the Uni HC with bloating from lactose intolerance and they wanted her to take a pregnancy test. Students eh!

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    at a recent appointment I asked the Doctor if I could have a flu jab "no problem roll up both sleeves and you can have the pneumonia jab at the same time" - excellent service - oh yeh - and the reason that the number of jabs has dropped this year is probably due there not being any 'killer' mutation coming from the Far East this year

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    @#2 Doctor Bob

    "There are those who feel that when it's time, the Good Lord will take them and that's how it should be."

    You are either totally socially irresponsible or mad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    Anyone who has not vaccinated against flu -- but ends up getting hospitalised by it -- should be forced to reimburse the NHS for treatment costs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    all i said was that the flu jab does not work my opinion and i get my post removed freedom of speech eh?

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    susiepie ... keep on studying. What you had was 3 bouts of the common cold.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    People maybe hold back on getting the Jab as some countries have stoped pharma companies from distrubuting their vaccines due to issues with it.
    Others maybe worried about the amount of mercury in their system due to government recomended injections as most vaccines contain a form of mercury as a preservitive even though mercury is Toxic and causes health issues.
    Is a flu jab worth the price?

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    And as long as people remember that the flu jab does not prevent getting a bad cold. Completely different viruses, you see. I've always been fine with the jab (I work in healthcare) and my over-65 mother has also always been fine with her jab.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    @18 Gerry
    The flu jab wasn't responsible for your symptoms, you cannot get flu from the vaccine.
    I have the jab every year, due to being 'at risk', and wouldn't miss it. I've had flu once in my life when I was in my 20's and I was out for 2 weeks. Many people who claim to have flu have a bad cold.The slow uptake maybe down to lack of advertising and surgerys not telling people they need the jab

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    I'm a gerontology student and spend lots of time in long term care and retirement homes and am required to get the flu shot. However, I think it's a waste of time. I got the shot last autumn and got flu three times this year. Previous years I've sometimes had the shot and it's made no difference as to whether I get flu or not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    I am one of the people who gets a letter every year & feel that its just wasting my practices time due to the the huge waiting lists & the fact that it is so busy every day.

    I don't take them up on it because there are people at lot worse off than myself, it just does not seem right somehow when you are fit & well.

    The other bit is trying to get an appointment at a time you know one can attend.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    I (as a diabetic) got my jab back in September and yes, I had the 'flu symptoms' for a couple of days (the symptoms that we call 'flu-like' are actually just your immune system reacting to *something* which is why practically everything gives flu-like symptoms).

    But overall, I'd much rather deal with a couple of days of mild annoyance than pneumonia or such.

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    I think having the flu jab is a great idea for those who are vunerable so that they have that extra protection. Mind you, everyone seems to have a different opinion so who knows best??


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