An extra 22,000 flu vaccinations will need to be issued to under 65s at risk this winter, according to public health experts at Northamptonshire County Council.
Last year 35,000 people aged under 65 and at risk of developing a more severe illness received a vaccination and it’s estimated that an extra 22,000 people in this key target group would need to be vaccinated this year in order to achieve population-wide protection (known as herd immunity).
Efforts to increase the number of people who take-up a flu vaccination in Northamptonshire achieved some positive results last year, with an increased take-up in some at risk groups compared to the previous years.
As part of this GPs are urged to do everything they can to encourage people to get a flu vaccination, especially if they are in any of the eligible groups (patients aged 65 or older, patients under 65 and at risk, pregnant women, health care workers, carers, children aged two to four on 1st September 2014).
Cabinet member for public health and well-being, Cllr Robin Brown said: “Flu vaccinations are a proven public health intervention that deliver excellent results.
“For most healthy people, flu is unpleasant but usually they will feel better within a week or so.
“However, older people, the very young, pregnant women and those with underlying disease are at particular risk of severe illness if they catch flu so it’s vital that we increase the numbers of people who get vaccinated.
“And if enough people are vaccinated we can achieve herd immunity, which is particularly important in protecting people who can’t get vaccinated because they’re too ill, or are receiving treatment that damages their immune system.
“We have been working with partners to increase the focus on vaccinating people in at risk groups and did see some increases in take-up last year but it’s vital that more work is done to increase the number of people vaccinated.
“In particular, we need to see an increase in the number of pregnant women, carers and young children who are immunised as currently these groups have the lowest take-up.”
NHS Nene Clinical Commissioning Group is also urging those most at risk from flu in the county to book an appointment with their GP to have a free flu vaccination.
Dr Darin Seiger, GP chairman of Nene Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Having the flu jab can help to save lives and as winter approaches now is the best time for those in the at risk eligible groups to get the free jab.
“It’s important to raise awareness of how important getting the flu jab is.
“Flu is a lot more serious than having a cold; it can knock you off your feet and leave you bed ridden for days and also lead to having to go to hospital.
“I would strongly urge those most at risk in Northamptonshire to make sure that they book an appointment with their local GP practice to get the flu vaccine.”