Press release

Flu vaccination uptake strong, but much more to do

Many older people, pregnant women, people in at-risk groups, and 2 and 3 year old children, have been vaccinated this flu season.

Sick woman with flu medicines

The latest flu vaccination figures from part way through the seasonal flu programme indicate many older people, pregnant women, people in at risk groups, and for the first time, 2 and 3 year old children, have been vaccinated to date as part of this season’s on-going flu vaccine campaign in preparation for the forthcoming winter flu season.

As of 24 November 2013, the provisional proportion of people in England who had received the 2013 to 2014 influenza vaccine in targeted groups were:

  • 43.6% in under 65 years in a clinical risk group
  • 34.0% in all pregnant women
  • 67.0% in 65+ year olds

From September 2013, all children aged 2 and 3 years are also being offered protection against flu, using a newly available nasal spray flu vaccine. This marks the first step in an extension to the national flu vaccination programme, which will eventually include yearly vaccination of all 2 to 16 year olds. Current figures for flu vaccination uptake among children as of 24 November were:

  • 34.1% in all 2 year olds
  • 30.6% in all 3 year olds

Preparation for winter flu started in September 2013 with a flu vaccination programme. A range of surveillance indicators are used to measure flu activity in the UK. At the moment these remain low across the UK, suggesting there is presently no evidence of community transmission of influenza.

Dr. Richard Pebody, a flu expert at Public Health England said:

It is great to see so many people taking steps to protect themselves already this flu season, but it’s important everyone in the targeted groups consider getting vaccinated. Flu has not started to circulate yet and there is still time to take up the opportunity of vaccination.

For most people influenza infection is just a nasty experience, but for some it can lead to illnesses that are more serious, including bronchitis and secondary bacterial pneumonia, which can be life threatening.

Older people and those groups at risk of developing complications include people with weakened immune systems, as well as those with underlying conditions such as neurological disorders, liver, lung or renal disease, heart problems or diabetes, and pregnant women. Vaccination remains the best way to protect against the potential serious harm from flu this winter.

Ends

Notes to editors

  1. The National Influenza Report is published weekly at 2pm on Thursday. See this week’s and previous versions.
  2. Further information about flu vaccination, including who should have it is available on the NHS website.
  3. Public Health England’s mission is to protect and improve the nation’s health and to address inequalities through working with national and local government, the NHS, industry and the voluntary and community sector. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. www.gov.uk/phe Follow us on Twitter @PHE_uk

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Published 28 November 2013