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At-risk groups told flu jab doesn’t give you flu

DoH fights common fallacy that vaccine gives you flu, to increase uptake

Louise Prime

Friday, 04 November 2011

The Department of Health has begun a campaign designed to counter the common misconception that the flu jab can give you flu, aimed at increasing uptake among at-risk groups.

More than half (58%) of the public said in a recent poll that they believed flu vaccination could make them ill with flu, do the DH is specifically targeting this fallacy in its latest campaign.

So far, millions of people in at-risk groups remain unvaccinated. Although about 7 million people have already been vaccinated this year, this includes only 55% of people aged 65 or more, 32% of younger patients in at-risk groups (including those with diabetes or liver, cardiac, respiratory or neurological problems), and just 14% of pregnant women.

The chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies has urged those who have still not been vaccinated to contact their practice for an appointment as soon as possible. She said the target is for at least 75% of older patients, and 60% of younger people in at-risk groups, to be vaccinated against flu.

Dame Sally said: “I can categorically state that the flu jab does not give you flu. The vaccine does not include the live virus.

“Flu can kill – and it can be particularly dangerous for people in at-risk groups. They are on average 11 times more likely to die from flu than a healthy person is,” she warned.

“If you haven’t been called for a flu jab and are in an at-risk group, it’s time to contact your GP to make an appointment. If you’re in an at risk group, it’s free on the NHS.”

Mortality from flu is six times higher among people with diabetes than in ‘healthy’ people, 11 times higher for people with chronic heart disease, seven times higher for chronic respiratory disease, 19 times higher for chronic renal disease, 48 times higher for chronic liver disease, 40 times higher for neurological problems such as multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy, and 47 times higher for those with compromised immunity resulting from medical treatment.

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