All those eligible urged to get their flu vaccine 'as soon as possible'

Public Health England is urging all eligible people in the West Midlands to get their free flu vaccine, as surveillance indicates uptake is still low among some of the most high-risk groups in the region.

Uptake has been slow among the region’s care home workers, raising concerns that some of the most vulnerable people in the region may be left without the essential support they need if carers leave themselves unprotected from flu, get ill and spread to other colleagues and perhaps even residents.

There is also a worryingly low number of pregnant women in the West Midlands who have so far failed to have their flu jab, putting themselves and their unborn babies at risk of complications. Dr Ian Sykes, local GP and Chair of Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, said:

“Flu is a very serious illness that kills thousands of people every year, and this year it’s more important than ever that everyone who’s eligible for a free jab takes up the offer.

“The vaccination programme is being extended to give many more people the chance to play their part in protecting themselves, their loved ones, and the most vulnerable people in society, against the harmful effects of flu.

“Your local GP has put lots of extra measures in place to keep you safe while getting your jab, so if you receive an invitation to a flu clinic please get in touch with your practice right away. The earlier you get vaccinated, the sooner you’ll be protected.”

From 1 December, those aged between fifty and sixty four years old became eligible for the free vaccine – a group which is also at higher risk from complications if catching COVID-19. Nationally, three quarters of all people aged 65 and older in England have received a free flu vaccine so far this year.

National uptake in healthcare workers is also ahead of this time last year. By the end of October, over half  of healthcare workers had already been vaccinated – over 100,000 more compared to the same period last year. England achieves some of the highest flu vaccine uptake rates in Europe for healthcare workers. Vaccination protects frontline staff – who are more likely to be exposed to flu at work – while also providing indirect protection to vulnerable patients.

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