Over 100 MPs and Peers are expected to attend today’s Westminster Flu Day, a flu vaccine clinic held in the House of Commons, to encourage their constituents to get this season’s flu vaccine in line with Government recommendations. Parliamentarians who are not be eligible for a free seasonal flu vaccination on the NHS will make a £10 donation to the Carers Trust. £10 is equivalent to the cost of a private vaccination.
Each year, flu can put a considerable burden on NHS resources, with numerous GP consultations and hospitalisations. The timing, extent and severity of influenza seasons are unpredictable and intermittent epidemics can cause significant illness and death.1
The uptake rate for flu vaccines in England for those aged 65 and over was 72.8% in 2014/15, which is just below the WHO target of 75%. The Department of Health however wants to improve the uptake rates for those people under 65 years of age with clinical conditions which put them more at risk from the effects of flu, the uptake rate currently stands at 50.3%. It also wants to improve uptake amongst other at-risk groups. In 2014/15, the uptake among pregnant women was only 44.1% and amongst healthcare workers it was just 54.9%. In addition, 38.5% of two year olds, 41.3% of three year olds and 32.9% of four year olds were vaccinated in England in 2014/15.2
Jane Ellison MP, Public Health Minister comments: “This is a great opportunity for MPs and Peers to find out who in their communities is eligible for the vaccination and encourage greater take up. MPs can play a really helpful role in raising awareness in their constituencies”.
Chris Skidmore MP (Conservative, Kingswood) hosting the event in Parliament has stated: “MPs really value the opportunity to learn about the importance of flu vaccination at Westminster Flu Day. I would urge everyone who is entitled to a free flu vaccination to go and get vaccinated this winter.”
Virginia Acha, ABPI Executive Director of Research, Medical and Innovation comments: “Speaking for the ABPI and all of our members, we are really pleased to support Westminster Flu Day and we hope that this campaign helps to advance awareness and uptake of the flu vaccines to deliver better health for our society, particular for those individuals most at risk.”
Dr George Kassianos, a GP and Fellow and Immunisation Lead of the Royal College of GPs, has stated: “Flu can be a pretty nasty and debilitating illness and I would encourage everyone at risk to get their annual flu jab.”
Gail Scott-Spicer, Chief Executive of Carers Trust has said: “If you’re the main carer for an older or disabled person whose health would be at risk if you were ill, we recommend that you ask your GP practice for a free flu jab this winter. Coming down with the flu can make it impossible to look after someone. And of course, if you don’t get vaccinated, you could inadvertently pass the virus on to the person you care for.”
The Department of Health (DH) recommends free flu vaccinations in England for those aged 65 or over; and for people with certain chronic conditions such as chronic respiratory, heart, liver, neurological and kidney disease; diabetes; weakened immune systems; splenic dysfunction; as well as people living in long-stay facilities such as nursing and residential homes; carers of elderly or disabled people; pregnant women; children aged two, three and four; household contacts of immunocompromised individuals. Healthcare professionals are also encouraged to have the vaccination.3The ABPI Vaccine Group is working hard with the Department of Health and Public Health England to understand how we can improve implementation of the seasonal flu programme in the at-risk groups and amongst pregnant women, and healthcare professionals.
Westminster Flu Day is an established event in the Parliamentary calendar. It is sponsored by the ABPI Vaccine Group in partnership with the Royal College of GPs and Carers Trust and with the support of the Department of Health and Public Health England.
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The ABPI will be tweeting live throughout Westminster Flu day follow the ABPI @ABPI_UK
Notes to Editors
Current Flu Vaccination Policy in England.4
According to the influenza immunisation programme 2015/16, an influenza vaccination should be offered for free to:
About ABPI Vaccine Group
The ABPI Vaccine Group is committed to advocating on behalf of the industry on all aspects of vaccination and the benefits it brings to the health of our nation. The Group aims to work in partnership with the public health community throughout the four nations of the UK to encourage the continued and further success of the national immunisation programmes.
Westminster Flu Day is supported by the following companies: