The ABPI’s annual Westminster Flu Day event has become a mainstay of the parliamentary calendar, evidenced by this year’s overwhelming response and attendance by over 230 MPs and Peers.
Organised by the ABPI Vaccine Group, and with support from the Royal College of Nursing and the Carers Trust, Westminster Flu Day is an opportunity to highlight the importance and benefit of vaccinations to public health.
Vaccinations and influenza have been a high-profile topic of discussion in recent weeks: earlier this year the World Health Organisation praised Britain's vaccination strategy for measles, declaring that it had now been 'eliminated' in the U.K.
At the same time, attention has been drawn to the potential severity of this year's flu strain and the importance of vaccination to those in at-risk groups has been widely reported.
As a result, this year's Westminster Flu Day saw a record number of MPs and Peers attend, as over 230 parliamentarians came to Portcullis House to learn about the great work our member companies do in researching, developing and manufacturing vaccines for infectious diseases, including influenza.
Flu Day also gave our politicians the opportunity to see the work of their constituent NHS clinical commissioning groups in attaining vaccination coverage compared with the national average.
Vaccination supports good health at all stages of life 1 and only clean water rivals vaccines at reducing infectious diseases and deaths.2 Immunisation saves 6 million lives a year.3
The event was sponsored by Luke Hall, MP for Thornbury and Yate, and by Michael Tomlinson, MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole. It was attended by Damian Green, First Secretary of State, and Steve Brine, Parliamentary Under Secretary State for Public Health and Primary Care.
Jon Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Health, John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and Vince Cable, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, also came to support Westminster Flu Day and learn more about the importance of the flu vaccine.
A number of Peers, including Lord Fowler, Speaker of the House of Lords also attended.
At the ABPI, we continue to advocate for, and support national and local campaigns that champion the benefits of, vaccination and work to increase rates for all diseases and for all eligible people.
1. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/pages/how-vaccines-work.aspx - last accessed April 2017
2. World Health Organisation (WHO): Initiative for Vaccine Research State of the art of new vaccines research and development Geneva 2006.
3. Ehreth, J: Vaccine 2003 21 506-600: The global value of vaccination