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Flu immunisation plan published for 2014/15

Public health experts warn against ‘complacency’

Jo Carlowe

Monday, 28 April 2014

Public Health England has today published its National Flu Programme for 2014-2015. 

In a letter to health providers, PHE, NHS England and the Department of Health set out their policy to support local planning to ensure all organisations have the information they need to prepare for the national immunisation programme, including the extension of the programme to children. 

The letter confirms that for 2014/15 eligibility for flu vaccination includes the following groups:

  • those aged 65 years and over
  • those aged six months to under 65 in clinical risk groups
  • pregnant women
  • all two, three and four year olds
  • school-aged children in pilot areas
  • those in long-stay residential care homes
  • carers

In addition, health and social care workers who are in direct contact with patients or service users are expected to be offered flu vaccination by their employer, including GP practice staff.

The letter notes: “Those eligible should be given flu vaccination as early as possible between September and early November before flu starts circulating in the community. However, flu can circulate considerably later than this and clinicians should apply clinical judgement to assess the needs of individual patients for vaccination beyond this time period. This should take into account the level of flu-like illness in the community and the fact that the immune response following flu vaccination takes about two weeks to develop fully.”

The publication states that last winter (2013/14) saw low levels of circulating flu, but it warns against ‘complacency’. 

There were estimated to be 11,000 deaths attributable to flu in the 2012/13 season, the highest since 2008/09. 

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