Chief medical officer launches push for flu jab drive

Author: Jo Carlowe
Chief medical officer launches push for flu jab drive
The chief medical officer (CMO), Professor Dame Sally Davies, is urging eligible adults to get vaccinated against flu.

Hundreds of thousands of adults with health conditions like asthma and diabetes are putting themselves at risk by missing out on potentially life-saving protection, the CMO warns.

This year, the flu strain that is circulating particularly affects adults in at-risk groups but latest figures show that only 45.7% of under 65s eligible for the free vaccination have had the jab this season, compared to 46.9% at the same time in 2017/18 and 47.4% in 2016/17.

Provisional data suggests this year’s vaccine is so far well matched to circulating strains of flu.

For over 65s, despite a new vaccine that promises better protection against flu, there has also been a decline in uptake this season compared to the same time last year, with 70.5% of over 65s having the jab so far in 2018/19 compared to 71.3% at the same point in 2017/18.

This is even more vital as the colder weather continues – each year there are an average of 8,000 deaths related to flu complications.

Commenting, Professor Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England said: “We know that as a rule, flu can be particularly deadly in older people, but the new aTIV vaccine available this season offers better protection than before. I always make sure I get my flu jab as a doctor and now as someone aged over 65.

“It’s getting colder and flu is going around, but it is not too late to get the jab - please get in touch with your GP or pharmacist urgently to get the free flu vaccine.”

Minister for public health, Steve Brine, said: “Our vaccine this year appears well matched to the strains circulating, it’s vital that those eligible take advantage of our world-leading free vaccination programme. Not only will you protect yourself, but those around you. It’s time to do your bit in preventing this debilitating illness from spreading.”