Thousands yet to get flu protection

By Ian Dipple Friday 27 December 2013 Updated: 27/12 22:00

THOUSANDS of people most at risk from the flu virus have yet to get themselves vaccinated.

Doctors are warning with flu season due to start in earnest from January, time is running out for people to protect themselves.

The flu jab is available to people in ‘at risk’ groups including those aged 65 and over, children and adults under 65 with certain medical conditions and all pregnant women.

This year for the first time also saw the introduction of a nasal spray vaccine which is being offered to parents of healthy two and three-year-olds.

But figures recently released by NHS England show in Redditch and Bromsgrove between the start of September and the end of November less than half of those in the at risk groups were vaccinated.

Of the 22 practices in the two towns, more than 21,000 people aged 65 and over have had the jab, some 66.5 per cent. But just 42.4 per cent - some 7,580 people - of those aged six months to 65-years-old with conditions putting them at risk from complications flu can cause have had the vaccination.

The figures are even lower among pregnant women with just 538 people or 32.2 per cent having the jab.

It means there are more than 22,000 patients eligible for the vaccine but who have not yet had it.

Dr Jonathan Wells, chair of Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG and a GP partner at Hillview Medical Centre off the Bromsgrove Road, said as the vaccine took up to two weeks to take affect time was running out for those who had yet to get protected.

“The figures are better than they were last year and I know GP surgeries have been trying their hardest to encourage patients to come and have their flu jab but traditionally it is easier to get the over 65s to come than those who are fit and well but in an at risk group,” he said.

“You categorically cannot get flu from having the flu jab but you might have a few aches and pains for a few hours. You have to remember there’s a lot of viruses out there in the community so it is not unexpected for people to pick up a virus at the same time as having the flu jab and they put it down to that when in fact it’s just a bug they picked up.”

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