GP flu vaccinations higher this year than last, monthly data show

More at-risk patients have received their free flu vaccine at their GP practice so far this year compared to last year, the first monthly vaccination figures of the flu season show.

GP flu vaccine provision is on the rise compared to this time last year for all at-risk populations except in patients under 65 with pre-existing health conditions, according to official Public Health England (PHE) data, which represents 91% of practices in England.

Weekly surveillance data released by PHE and the RCGP earlier this month suggested that uptake was declining, prompting concerns that patients may be shunning the jab or turning to their community pharmacist instead.

The data show that the proportion of each risk group vaccinated so far is:

  • 31.8% in all pregnant women (up from 30% in 2014/15)
  • 58.1% in 65+ year olds (up from 57.1% in 2014/15)
  • 17.8% in all 2 year old children (up from 17.3% in 2014/15)
  • 18.7% in all 3 year old children (steady on 18.7% from 2014/2015)
  • 15.4% in all 4 year old children (up from 14.15% in 2014/15)
  • 32.8% in people under age 65 with a long term health condition (down from 34.9% in 2014/15)

Flu vaccine uptake

PHE welcomed the rise, but stressed that ‘there was no room for complacency’. It urged  patients who are eligible for the free vaccine – particularly those under 65 with an underlying health condition – to get the jab before the virus starts to circulate more widely.

Dr Richard Pebody, head of flu surveillance for PHE, said: ‘It is great to see so many people taking steps to protect themselves already this flu season, but there is no room for complacency where flu is concerned.

‘It’s not too late for people in "at risk" groups to get the vaccine for free. This includes people with health conditions, even those that are well managed, such as asthma, diabetes, heart, lung, liver or renal diseases, those with weakened immune systems, as well as older people and pregnant women. Anyone in these groups who hasn’t yet had the vaccine should contact their GP, pharmacist or midwife.’

Photo: Jim Varney

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