Get your seasonal flu jab urges MP

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MPs and Peers were invited today to attend Westminster Flu Day, a flu vaccine clinic held in the House of Commons, to encourage their constituents to get this season’s flu vaccine in line with Government recommendations.

Last year, 75 per cent of people over 65 years and 53 per cent in the at risk groups were vaccinated against flu in the Blackpool, Flyde and Wyre PCT area compared with the national averages of 74 per cent for the over 65s and 51.6 per cent for those ‘at risk’.

Mark Menzies MP said “The seasonal flu vaccination is important to help protect those people who are more susceptible to serious complications or even death from flu.  I would encourage all those that are over the age of 65 or are in one of the ‘at risk’ groups to visit their surgeries and get vaccinated,” he added.

Dr George Kassianos, a GP and Fellow and Immunisation Lead of the Royal College of GPs, said “Despite the relatively mild flu season last year, people should remember that flu remains a serious threat, particularly for those aged over 65 and those of any age with medical conditions that put them at increased risk from influenza infection and its complications. Flu can be a pretty nasty and debilitating illness and I would encourage everyone at risk to get their annual flu jab.”

The NHS has a very successful seasonal flu programme. The uptake rate for flu vaccines in those aged 65 and over reached 74 per cent in 2011/12, which is just below the WHO target of 75 per cent.  The Department of Health, however, wants to improve the uptake rates for those people under 65 years of age with clinical conditions which put them more at risk from the effects of flu.  This currently stands at 51.6 per cent, and the Department hopes to increase it to 70 per cent. Uptake among pregnant women in 2011/12 was only 27.4 per cent. UVIG is working hard with the Department of Health to understand how we can improve implementation of the seasonal flu programme in the at-risk groups and amongst pregnant women and healthcare professionals.

Westminster Flu Day is an established event in the Parliamentary calendar. It is sponsored by the UK Vaccine Industry Group (UVIG) and is supported by the Department of Health as a useful way to highlight the importance of flu vaccination.

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