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NHS England is urging people aged 65 and over to take advantage of the NHS’s biggest ever flu vaccination programme, providing a record 8.5 million doses, free of charge.
Health chiefs are highlighting the launch of a campaign to promote flu vaccines to the over 65s, as part of the annual campaign to encourage the public to stay well before the winter period, with NHS leaders reassuring the public that there is sufficient supply of the vaccine in stock for everyone to get protected ahead of winter.
Seqirus, the sole supplier of the new, more effective vaccine for over 65s, have phased deliveries to cope with global demand. GPs and pharmacies have been setting up special vaccination clinics. There are also local helplines for GPs and pharmacies if they have any problems so they are able to ensure all patients have the appropriate advice and information about their flu jab.
Professor Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England, said: “This is the biggest flu vaccination programme we have ever undertaken offering more people than ever the greatest opportunity to help protect themselves. 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 despatched to GPs and pharmacies, we are urging those who have not yet had their flu jab to get it as soon as possible. Around 8.5 million doses of vaccine have been ordered, with around one million surplus doses available. The current uptake rate in those aged 65 or over is 45.2 per cent so we are keen to see an increase in that figure.”
Alongside the elderly, NHS England is also providing vaccines for other at-risk groups such as pregnant women and people with long terms conditions, as well as for NHS and care staff. There is also a nasal spray, which works better in younger people, and is free of charge for children.
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