The Chief Nursing Officer for England and the London Regional Medical Director Dr Vin Diwakar urged the over 65s to take advantage of NHS England’s biggest ever flu vaccination programme.
Older people across London are being offered the most effective vaccine in the world as part of the programme which is providing a record 8.5million doses, free of charge.
All vaccines have now been delivered to those surgeries and pharmacists who placed an order on time and the NHS is reassuring the public that there is sufficient supply of the vaccine in stock for everyone to get protected ahead of winter.
The last batches of the new Adjuvanted trivalent flu vaccine, or aTIV, which provides much more effective protection for over 65s, were being delivered to GPs and pharmacies across the country this week ahead of the flu season, which usually starts in December.
NHS England is also providing vaccines for other vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and people with long terms conditions, as well as for NHS and care staff. There is also a nasal spray, which works better in younger people, and is free of charge for children.
Seqirus, the sole supplier of the new, more effective vaccine for over 65s, have phased deliveries to cope with global demand.
As the NHS continues to work with GPs and the Royal College of Physicians to ensure the vaccine gets to where it is needed, the only supplier of the flu vaccine, Seqirus, confirmed it has now despatched the final supplies for England.
Professor Jane Cummings, the Chief Nursing Officer for England said: “This is the biggest flu vaccination programme we have ever undertaken offering more people than ever the greatest opportunity to protect themselves.
“This year three types of vaccine are being used, including the Adjuvanted trivalent flu vaccine, or aTIV, which gives particularly good protection to people aged 65 and over.
“Deliveries of aITV have been going on since September and with all the vaccines now delivered to GPs and pharmacies, we are urging those who have not yet had their flu jab to get it as soon as possible.”
Professor Cummings added: “Around 8.5 million doses of vaccine have been ordered, with around one million surplus doses available. The current uptake rate in those aged 65 or over is 45.2% so we are keen to see an increase in that figure.
“As well as older adults, and those with long term conditions, we want other at-risk groups such as pregnant mums and young children to be protected as well. It’s certainly not too late for people to get vaccinated.”
Dr Vin Diwakar, Medical Director for NHS England London said: “Uptake on the flu jab particularly among the 65 and over age group across the country is generally down on where we were this time last year and we are working to increase the number of people being vaccinated.
“Flu can be extremely serious to the most vulnerable and vaccination is by far the best defence we have. Anyone at increased risk from the effects of flu is offered the vaccine for free. Speak to a GP or pharmacist – or look out for an invitation from your child’s school – to get yourself and your relatives protected this winter.”
GPs and pharmacies have been setting up special vaccination clinics. There is also a helpline for GPs and pharmacies if they have any problems so they are able to ensure all patients have the appropriate advice and information about their flu jab.