MPs and Peers were invited to attend 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.
Last year, 72.9% of people over 65 years and 46.6% in the ‘at risk’ groups were vaccinated against flu in Bedfordshire compared with the national averages of 73.4% for the over 65s and 51.3% for those ‘at risk’.1
South West Beds MP Andrew Selous said: “Flu can be a very serious illness for certain groups of people. I would therefore encourage all those that are over the age of 65 or are in one of the ‘at risk’ groups to visit their surgeries and get vaccinated.”
Dr Dan Poulter MP, Minister for Health, said: “The seasonal flu vaccination is important to help protect those people who are more susceptible to serious complications or even death from flu.”
The NHS has a very successful seasonal flu programme. The uptake rate for flu vaccines in those aged 65 and over was 73.4% in 2012/13, 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.
This currently stands at 51.3%, and the Department hopes to increase it to 75%. Uptake among pregnant women in 2012/13 was only 40.3% and among healthcare workers the uptake was only 45.6%.
The ABPI Vaccine Group is working hard with the Department of Health to understand how we can improve implementation of the seasonal flu programme in the ‘at risk’ groups and among pregnant women and healthcare professionals.
Westminster Flu Day is an established event in the Parliamentary calendar. It is sponsored by the ABPI Vaccine Group and is supported by the Department of Health as a useful way to highlight the importance of flu vaccination.
MPs who would not be eligible for a free seasonal flu vaccination on the NHS made a £10 donation to the Disasters Emergency Committee. £10 is equivalent to the average cost of a private vaccination.