A million people across the capital have now received their flu vaccinations, just weeks since eligible people across London were invited to book their vaccinations to help keep them well this winter. In all, nearly 4.7 million people across the capital are eligible for winter flu jabs this year and, with the one million milestone now hit, the campaign to get London boosted continues.
But there’s still a long way to go to get all of London’s vaccine-eligible population protected. NHS bosses are keen to ensure that those who are most at risk of being unwell get the right protection, with a focus on ensuring that people over the age of 65, those who are pregnant, or anyone living with, or susceptible to particular illnesses gets vaccinated.
Nina Kazaezadeh, regional chief midwife for NHS London said it’s vital that pregnant people are up to date with their flu and covid vaccinations:
“All pregnant people should have their flu and covid vaccination, during pregnancy. Pregnancy can change the way people’s bodies fight infection, and if someone who is expecting gets flu or covid, there can be more risk of complications.
“It’s really important that pregnant people have the flu and covid vaccines to help protect them and their baby.”
Jay, 26, who is pregnant and works in south east London has booked to get her flu jab for the first time: “Since becoming a first-time expecting mother, the priority level of my health and wellbeing has increased dramatically because I now have a little one to think about.
“Despite never thinking about the flu jab previously, I am now open to the discussion about it, and I’ve found that it can be taken at any stage of pregnancy. The process is simple. I can get the flu vaccine at my antenatal clinic, or I can book through my GP practice or community pharmacy.
“I know that making the decision to say yes is going to protect me and my baby from serious illness and give them a safer start to life. My concerns over whether it is safe have been overshadowed by the higher possibility of developing serious complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia if I catch flu and give it to them.
“My advice to other expectant mothers is to get the facts from a trusted source before making a decision that’s going to affect both you and your baby.”
And it’s not just pregnant people who are being reminded. Everyone who is eligible, even if they’ve had a vaccine or been ill with flu or covid before, should make an appointment to keep their immunity topped up. Vaccines provide the best protection against serious illness and hospitalisation and are one of the best ways to keep people safe this winter.
Despite hitting the million mark, recent data shows that London’s overall uptake lags behind the rest of the country, with just one in five of eligible people boosted, compared to a national figure of nearly a third. Low uptake of boosters is more acute across some of London’s more economically deprived boroughs.
Commenting on the figures, Chris Streather, NHS London’s Medical Director said: “These figures mark an important milestone in our campaign to get London winter-safe, and it’s been great to see so many people from across our city coming forward to protect themselves this winter. It is also testament to the hard work of NHS teams and healthcare workers across the city.
“There’s no room for complacency, however. Our latest data reveals that London still has a long way to go to ensure that all those who are eligible get their flu and covid jabs this season.
“Vaccinations are safe, free and available locally and could save you from getting seriously ill, and even hospitalised this winter. They are the best means of protecting yourself and your loved ones and we’d urge all eligible Londoners to come forward and get the protection they need.”
Notes to editors:
1,041,038 total flu vaccine doses administered as of 17 October
Who can have the flu vaccine?
The flu vaccine is given free on the NHS to adults who:
- are 65 and over (including those who will be 65 by 31 March 2024)
- have certain health conditions
- are pregnant
- are in long-stay residential care
- receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person
- live with someone who is more likely to get a severe infection due to a weakened immune system, such as someone living with HIV, someone who has had a transplant, or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
How to get the flu vaccine
If you’re eligible for an NHS flu vaccine, you can:
- contact your GP surgery to book an appointment
- find a pharmacy that offers NHS flu vaccination (if you’re aged 18 or over)
- book a flu vaccination appointment online or on the NHS App (if you’re aged 18 or over)
Some people may be able to get vaccinated through their maternity service, care home or their employer if they are a frontline health or social care worker.