Increase in flu vaccine uptake

NHS Derbyshire County have recorded their best-ever seasonal flu vaccination figures.

Just over 75 per cent of elderly people in the county had the flu jab, beating the Department of Health’s required target, meaning the trust protected more patients in the over-65s group than most other primary care trusts across the country where average uptake rates were 72.8 per cent.

More of those at risk, including those with long-term illnesses such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease, also had the flu jab this year and major improvements were also seen in the numbers of frontline NHS staff having the jab - with health bosses doubling uptake from around 25 per cent last year to over 70 per cent this year.

Jane Careless, immunisation coordinator for NHS Derbyshire County, said: “Thankfully levels of flu have been low so far this year, which makes these figures even more impressive as it’s harder for people to understand the risks of flu when rates are low.”

Health bosses put their success down to a number of key initiatives, including working with hospital managers, community health workers, GP practices and midwives to raise awareness about the risks of flu to the most vulnerable groups.

GPs, in their new role as commissioners, were also able to use their influence to push home the message that GP practice staff should have the jab to prevent the spread of the virus to vulnerable patients.

Midwives also worked closely with GP practices to raise awareness about the risks flu can have on pregnant women.

“Traditionally the flu jab has always been seen as a jab for the elderly, but we’re starting to see a shift in public perception and this is leading to more people from eligible vulnerable groups coming forward to have the jab,” Mrs Careless added.