Just over half of patients aged over 65 have received their annual flu vaccination, according to the first uptake figures published for this season’s campaign.
Provisional data released from NHS Immunisation, derived from 7,139 (86%) of the 8,330 GP practices in England, shows that by then end of October 55.9% of patients aged 65 years and over had received their flu jab – up slightly from 54.7% at the same time last year.
30.6% of patients aged under 65 and in a clinical risk group had received their flu jab by the end of October, another modest increase from last year’s figure of 28.4%.
So far the flu vaccination campaign has not been dogged by the shortages of vaccine seen in previous years. But the latest weekly report on influenza, compiled by the HPA and including data up to December 7th, warns that ‘influenza activity across the UK appeared to be increasing.’
The more recent data included in the HPA’s weekly report puts flu vaccine uptake at 71.4% in the over 65s and 43.4% in the under 65s.
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The HPA report also states threshold for NHS direct have been exceeded, and the service has seen a 200% increase in the volume of cold and flu-related calls to their hotline.
From September 8 to December 7 NHS Direct experienced a 206% rise in callers ringing to seek medical advice about colds, flu, coughs and fever.
Source: Pulse doctor’s magazine, 11th December 2008.