Wales politics

Morbidly obese in Wales to receive free flu jab

Injection in arm Image copyright Thinkstock

A free flu jab is to be offered to the most overweight people in Wales from this autumn.

In 2015, an independent expert panel advised that morbidly obese people who have no other clinical risks would benefit from the flu vaccine.

Wales' chief medical officer has now written to doctors telling them they can offer the flu vaccine free of charge to those people.

It is hoped the move will reduce winter pressures on public services.

Morbid obesity is defined as a Body Mass Index (a measure of weight in relation to height) of 40 or more.

About 2% of adults in Wales are classified as morbidly obese.

Some people in this category will already have been eligible for the flu vaccine as a result of other conditions.

The Welsh Government has estimated about 8,200 extra people will now be able to receive it.

'Potentially serious'

The vaccine is currently given to people deemed to be at high risk of suffering serious complications if they catch flu.

They include pregnant women, the over 65s and people with chronic conditions such as asthma, emphysema, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease or liver disease.

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: "On current prices, and accounting for a degree of uncertainty in levels of take up of the vaccine by this group, we would estimate that would cost up to £68,000 at most - the equivalent of around £8.30 per person.

"The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation's recommendations are based on assessment of cost-effectiveness.

"The primary rationale is that this investment contributes to increasing protection for vulnerable individuals against the potentially serious effects of flu and to reducing winter pressures on public services."

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