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 108.

    Why are numbers falling? Easy - because GP surgeries are now made to worry about cost at every turn, so actively discourage flu-jabs as they come directly out of their budget. I'm diabetic and have to have a fight every year to get one. My sister-in-law has just recovered from pleurisy, pneoumonia and liver cytosis and thus at risk, but was refused one on the grounds that she's under 65.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    Saved money - so no ads, so its slipped my mind (I'm asthmatic). Conservative party really don't like losing money, it's very lucky they have a major Thatcherite figure like Lord McAlpine to fundraise for them, he's so good he could raise money and keep publicity on ANYTHING down to a minimum. Probably save their bacon, those aussies are just unappreciative of his other points!

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    What came first, the vaccine or the egg?

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    71. moggy

    Influenza virus causes disease, correct.

    The disease is a symptom of infection by this virus. (in this case influenza)

    Influenza- a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory passages.

    Also I did not mention killing anybody.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    When you've got the NHS telling us that only certain people need flue jabs and the High Street pharmacies telling us that everyone should have one, it's not surprising that people get worried and confused.

    If only politicians stopped treating the NHS like a sacred cow, applied some common sense and were not afraid to endorse people paying for the own healthcare, this situation wouldn't arise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    my daughter is on the at risk of severe flu owing to asthma and to contracting the swine flu bad enough to be hospitalised, and has had the flu vaccine for the past two years, this year the gp says there is no need for it. Its not poor uptake its the GPs trying to save money and get patients to pay for it privately if they still want it.Thus they are selling it off as unwanted doses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    Don't you find it comical when out and about and people tell you they've got 'the flu' - it's a cold.
    If you have 'the flu' you wouldn't even be tempted to pick up a £20 note from the floor, never mind trot around a supermarket or visit the local pub.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    When Boots started doing flu jabs I seized at the chance as, with elderly parents to look out for, I didn't want to risk being struck down by flu over the winter.

    These days I qualify for an NHS jab, but, if I didn't, I would still find the money to pay for it despite being long term unemployed. As far as I'm concerned, it's a no brainer

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    I wonder how many would have turned up if there had been a financial incentive to have it.................

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    I have had flu, when I was twelve; it was diagnosed as flu by two doctors, and I was extremely ill. I am in 3 high risk categories. But I refuse to have the flu jab, because I no longer trust health professionals to do what's best for me and not what's best for the pharmaceutical industry (based on personal experience, not internet gossip). Maybe others feel the same.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    "The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, from September to early November", says the NHS

    I think TV campaigns are in November, so I have always waited until then, probably like many people. I hope that Winterwatch mentions the September date, but I bet it doesn't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    The Co I work for offers free flu jabs so getting them isnt a problem.Ive never had one simply because alot of my colleugues that do get ill ! I also see it as a way of my Co refusing sick pay as we have had the oppurtunity. I have had flu in the past and yes its horrible but I would rather take the risk. Now I work at home I leave all the illnesses to the office based workers

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    As a sufferer from diabetes mellitus and also suffering from being over 60 (in Wales!) I am entitled to a flu jab. I have not had mine yet, as I am due for a repeat prescription of my 5 sets of medication next week, and hopefully will get it done then. And after several annual flu jabs, shouldn't I now have built up an enormous immunity to this virus? Maybe they could draw a culture from me??

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    Perhaps they all died of cold in the last two winters having been unable to heat their homes due to spiralling energy costs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    " I got the shot last autumn and got flu three times this year."

    No, you had three colds. Real 'flu is relatively rare, anyone making a claim such as this has likely never had it because then they would know the difference. In my 50 years I have had 'flu once - before vaccination was available - and always laugh at people with a sore throat and sniffle who say they've got "flu".

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    When government and private corporations are shown to be routinely behaving in a corrupt self-serving manner, when people are prosecuted for indulging in free speech which criticises government, and the press is scared to name paedophiles whose names are freely available online, then people lose trust in government schemes, sometimes without good reason, like MMR, and now the flu vaccine.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    Have the uninformed out there not heard of herd immunity?

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    I take it the people who aren't going for a vaccine have never had flu....

    I had full-on flu years ago -never felt so horrendous in my life, aches and pains of a cold x100 for a week and then 6 weeks exhaustion.
    I dont qualify for free jab myself -but I pay for a jab and am 1st in the queue !

  • Comment number 90.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    I'm in an "at risk" group (asthma) but due to being allergic to egg (in any form) and the flu vaccine being made on an egg based culture (most wouldn't know this) I require a "special" version of the flu jab.

    My GP surgery have told me the last few years they can't get stocks of the "special" flu jab because there aren't enough people in my area who need it!!

    It's lucky I haven't had the flu...


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