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​Fewer than half eligible children protected from flu

13th October 2016
Mansfield, Ashfield

Fewer than half eligible children protected from flu 

GPs in Mansfield and Ashfield  are reminding parents of young children to make sure their family is protected from flu this winter. The call comes as figures from last year reveal as little as 35 per cent of eligible children were presented for their free nasal spray flu vaccination. 

NHS Mansfield and Ashfield Clinical Commissioning Group, the organisation that plans healthcare services for their local population, have revealed that under half of all children aged 2, 3 and 4 were given their free vaccination last winter with uptake poorest in those aged 4. 

Nationally, GP practices are aiming to achieve a 75 per cent uptake across all age groups targeted. 

Figures also show that just 43 per cent of those aged under 65 and considered at risk of flu were vaccinated against the virus with as few as 46  per cent of pregnant women taking up the opportunity of the vaccine.

The rate of vaccination was strongest in those aged over 65 but commissioners admitted rates could still be better than the 73 per cent achieved. 

Nationally, one in three people are entitled to a free flu vaccination, yet every year thousands of people run the risk of catching the potentially deadly illness rather than have the flu vaccination. Most cases of flu in the UK occur during an 8-10 week period during the autumn and winter months. 

Last year there were 529,613 deaths registered in England and Wales, an increase of 28,189 (5.6%) compared with 2014. The majority of the increase in deaths in 2015 happened during the first few months of the year, coinciding with an increase in hospital admissions for flu and reports of numerous outbreaks of the virus in care homes.        

Flu immunisation is one of the most effective ways to prevent flu and reduces the potential harm it can cause. The most likely viruses that will cause flu each year are identified in advance of the flu season in the UK and vaccines are then made to provide protection against these strains as closely as possible.

Those at greater risk from flu include people aged 65 or over, pregnant women, children and people with health conditions such as severe asthma, chest or heart complaints and diabetes. An annual flu vaccine nasal spray is also now offered to healthy children aged two, three and four years old, and to children in school years one and two. 

Dr Gavin Lunn, GP Chair for NHS Mansfield and Ashfield Clinical Commissioning Group said:

“We know people lead busy lives so we are reminding those eligible groups to make sure they take up the opportunity to fully protect themselves and their families from the flu. 

“The nasal spray is incredibly pain free and quick.  Most children hardly even notice they’ve had it yet the vaccine can prevent the risk of serious illness, which can lead to hospitalisation, or worse, among those who are most at risk. 

“The best time to have the vaccine is always in the autumn, so it’s important that everyone is protected now.”

Dr Thilan Bartholemuez, GP and newly appointed clinical lead for NHS Newark and Sherwood Clinical Commissioning Group said:

“Each year, we invite people to come forward for their flu vaccination, which reduces risk of serious illness, hospitalisation and even worse  among those who are most at risk. I would urge everyone who is eligible to have the vaccination as early as possible before flu starts circulating in the community. The best time to have the vaccine is always in the autumn, so it’s important that everyone is protected now.

“The vaccine also changes every year to fight the latest strains of flu so even those who had a vaccine last year will need another one this year to stay flu safe.  The vaccine does not contain the ‘live’ virus so it cannot give people the flu.” 

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