England’s most senior nurse is urging eligible people to claim their free flu jab if they haven’t already because surgeries and pharmacies are now fully stocked up.
Deliveries started in September and NHS England today confirmed that all ordered vaccines – a record 8.5 million doses – have been dispatched.
“This is the biggest flu vaccination programme we have ever undertaken”
Professor Jane Cummings
This week health chiefs are focusing on encouraging people aged 65 or over to take up the offer.
Among the other “at-risk groups” who are entitled to a free vaccination are pregnant women, people with long-term conditions and children.
Health and social care staff can also get the jab without charge.
Professor Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer for England, said leaders were keen to increase the current uptake rate among people aged 65 or over of 45.2%.
“This is the biggest flu vaccination programme we have ever undertaken offering more people than ever the greatest opportunity to help protect themselves,” she said.
“This year three types of vaccine are being used, including the adjuvanted trivalent flu vaccine, or aTIV, which should give better protection to people aged 65 and over.
“Deliveries of aITV have been going on since September and with all vaccines now dispatched to GPs and pharmacies, we are urging those who have not yet had their flu jab to get it as soon as possible.”
“Flu can kill and the vaccine is the single best way to protect yourself and those around you”
Professor Dame Sally Davies
Seqirus, the sole supplier of the new, more effective vaccine for over 65s, has phased deliveries to cope with global demand.
There have been reports that some older people have been denied the jab on request because their local GP surgery or pharmacy had not received their order yet.
Chiefs at NHS England today reassured that there was sufficient supply of the vaccine in stock for everyone to get protected ahead of the winter.
Professor Cummings stressed that it was “certainly not too late” to get vaccinated.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England, also encouraged everyone at increased risk to get the jab.
She said: “Flu can kill and the vaccine is the single best way to protect yourself and those around you.”
Professor Paul Cosford, director of Public Health England, said aside from having the vaccine, the best way to prevent the spread of flu was to practice good hand hygiene.
“Flu can be extremely serious and can kill the most vulnerable,” Professor Cosford added.
Dr Paul Cosford