Plea for those eligible to take up flu jab to avoid ‘double threat’
PUBLISHED: 16:25 22 September 2020
Archant Norfolk 2017
More people in Norfolk and Waveney are set to be offered the flu jab this winter as part of a health drive to prevent the double threat of flu and coronavirus.
This year 30 million people in England will able to access the free flu vaccine, the highest number on record.
Public Health England (PHE) officials are calling for anyone eligible to get the jab after its research found people infected with both flu and Covid-19 between January and April were more at risk of severe illness and death.
The health body said most cases of co-infection were in older people and more than half of them died.
PHE’s medical director Dr Yvonne Doyle said: “The flu vaccine is more important than ever, to help reduce transmission of flu and protect the nation from the double threat of flu and Covid-19.
“You may be offered it for the first time this year – it is important that you take up the offer to protect yourself and others.”
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In the most recent figures showing the uptake in GP patients between September 2019 and February 2020, 72.3pc of patients in Norfolk aged over 65 took up the vaccine.
At a press conference on Monday, professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, said the country faced a tough winter as the season benefited respiratory viruses.
He said mortality rates from Covid-19 were “significantly greater” than seasonal flu, which killed around 7,000 annually or 20,000 in a bad year.
As in previous years, GP surgeries will offer vaccines to two and three year olds, adults aged over 65, those with long-term health conditions and pregnant women.
PHE said following vaccination in the most at risk groups, those aged 50 to 64 with long term health conditions will be encouraged to be vaccinated earlier.
All primary school children, and for the first time year seven pupils, will be offered the flu nasal spray this year.
The vaccine will also be offered the household contacts of those on the NHS shielded patient list and all health and social care workers.
Pharmacists will be able to vaccinate care home residents and staff at the same time.
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