Seasonal flu jab targets missed

Three quarters of PCTs failed to hit their own targets for seasonal flu jab uptake last year, figures obtained by GP newspaper show.

PCTs had hoped to capitalise on swine flu fears by increasing uptake of seasonal flu jabs.

Many aimed for uptake levels as much as 5% above the WHO target of 75% among over 65-year-olds. Some also increased vaccine orders to cope with a rise in demand, to cover PCT staff vaccinations and help GP practices facing stock shortages.

But responses to a freedom of information request show that, of 49 PCTs aiming to achieve uptake rates above WHO targets, just 11 succeeded.

In addition, among 30 PCTs that aimed to achieve uptake rates above WHO targets for under 65-year-olds in at-risk groups, just 13 hit their targets.

Across England, uptake of seasonal flu jabs among over 65-year-olds fell to 72.4% in the last flu season, from 74.1% the year before.

In 2009/10 uptake in over-65s slowed between October and November. The DoH is now examining the effect of swine flu on seasonal flu uptake and looking at whether there were geographical variations in this effect.

The DoH has warned that many at-risk patients remain unvaccinated. GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘It is vital that despite all the focus on White Paper changes we continue to prioritise flu immunisations.’

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