Northamptonshire on target to give out quarter of a million free flu jabs

'Those who haven't had an invitation yet, will do so soon,' says Public Health chief

Monday, 2nd November 2020, 1:08 pm
Updated Monday, 2nd November 2020, 1:12 pm

Health chiefs say Northamptonshire is on target to give out more than 250,000 free flu jabs this winter.

NHS England increased the number of people eligible for vaccinations to 337,599 in the county in a bid to avoid a double whammy of patients battling flu and Covid-19 swamping hospitals during the winter.

Friday's weekly Covid-19 briefing was told nearly 75,000 jabs have already been given in the county despite fears of suppliers struggling to meet increase demand.

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Northamptonshire's Public Health Director Lucy Wightman said: "There are quite often challenges around availability of any vaccines which need to be stored at a particular temperature.

"GPs have a schedule of deliveries which is reliant on availability from wholesalers and manufacturers. But the increase in eligibility puts a huge amount of pressure on producers to meet demand.

"I do have concerns and I won't be alone in that, but any issues are not specific to Northamptonshire.

"We are aware of issues in some areas geographically but I have not received any information about us locally having challenges."

Nearly half the population of Northamptonshire are eligible for free flu jabs this year

The UK's peak winter flu season runs from December to March and causes, on average, around 10,000 deaths in the UK each year.

NHS England set a target to give vaccinations to 75 per cent of those who are over-65, under-65 and vulnerable, pregnant woman and a fourth group described as "16-65 not at risk".

Nearly 59,000 among 138,000 eligible in the over-65 group have already received vaccinations

Mrs Wightman added: "The number of people eligible is nearly half the entire population of Northamptonshire.

"But it's good news that, compared to this point last year, there has been an increase in uptake of vaccinations in all eligible groups.

"There is still a very long way to go to hit the target and, in my view, we should aim to exceed that and get as close to 100 per cent as possible.

"This is a long programme rolled out over a number of months. So those who haven't received an invitation yet will do so over a period of time as GP practices manage the logistics of getting everybody in.

“Getting a flu vaccination is the best way of protecting you and your family from flu every winter.

"This winter, we are not just dealing with flu but with Covid-19 as well so it is especially important that those who are eligible for free flu vaccine this year, take up the offer."