Higher proportion of at-risk patients vaccinated against flu by GPs this season

GPs vaccinated a greater proportion of at-risk groups against flu in 2016/17 compared with the previous year despite mounting workload pressures, official data show.

Overall, more than 10m patients were vaccinated by GP practices throughout the 2016/17 winter season, around two thirds (62%) of those deemed to be at high risk of flu.

Public Health England (PHE) statistics covering the whole season, stretching from 1 September 2016 to 31 January 2017, show that coverage rose by 1.7 percentage points over 2015/16.

Vaccine uptake in patients with morbid obesity in clinical risk groups – recorded for the first time this year – stood at 58%. PHE said this figure was ‘encouraging’ as these patients ‘are known for their increased risk of severe outcomes’.

Flu vaccination

A total of 70.5% of people aged over 65 received the vaccine – a 0.5% fall from last year. This puts England slightly shorter of the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s target for vaccine coverage to reach or exceed 75% in this age group.

Coverage varied from 49% at lowest area in Waltham Forest CCG to a highest of 79% at Rushcliffe CCG for over 65s.

Uptake rose in those at clinical risk aged between six months to 65 years increased up to 48.6%, rising 3.5 percentage points from 45.1% in 2015/16. Pregnant women also saw a 2.6 percentage point rise in coverage up to 44.9%.

All children cohorts had increased coverage, with two fifths of two- and three-year-olds and a third of four-year-olds receiving the vaccine. One in five children aged six month to two years received the vaccine.

A total of 98% of practices responded to the adult survey and 97% to the child survey.

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