With the seasonal flu vaccination programme well underway, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is reporting a 25% increase (47,500 doses) in vaccine uptake from this time last year.
Dr Richard Smithson, Consultant in Health Protection, PHA, said: “These excellent uptake rates reflect a greater awareness of the need to get the flu jab. This is partly due to increased media campaign activity driving the message ‘flu is more serious than you think’, and the efforts of GPs and nurses who have done a tremendous job in promoting the vaccination programme. I would ask them to continue their work and ask for an extra effort to promote the flu vaccine to pregnant women.
“The PHA is delighted with this news, as it shows how well the vaccination programme has gone so far, but we can’t afford to be complacent. The PHA is still driving the message to at-risk groups that receiving the seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting the virus. If you are in an at-risk group or pregnant, get the vaccine now; it’s not too late.”
The earlier you get vaccinated the better as it takes the body about 10–14 days after the jab to develop antibodies. These will then protect you against the same or similar viruses if the body is exposed to them. The vaccine contains three strains of the flu virus, which are considered the most likely to be circulating this winter, including the H1N1 (swine flu) virus.
Health Minister Edwin Poots welcomes the uptake in flu vaccinations. The Minister said: “I am encouraged that so many people in an at-risk group have decided to follow the advice and have got the vaccine to protect themselves. I would also urge those at-risk who haven’t yet availed of the flu vaccination to come forward and receive it from their GP as soon as possible.”
For more information on seasonal flu, go to www.fluawareni.info and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Contact the PHA Press Office on 028 9031 1611.
Notes to the editor
For more information about the flu vaccine for 2011/12, visit www.fluawareni.info or speak to your GP/nurse or member of staff at the antenatal clinic in your local Health and Social Care Trust.
At risk groups for flu include the following:
- Anyone aged 65 or over, even if they feel fit and healthy at the moment.
- Pregnant women (at any stage of pregnancy).
- Children and adults who have any of the following medical conditions:
– a chronic chest condition such as asthma;
– a chronic heart condition;
– chronic kidney disease;
– lowered immunity due to disease or treatment such as steroids or cancer therapy;
– a chronic neurological condition such as stroke, multiple sclerosis or a condition that affects your nervous system, such as cerebral palsy;
– any other serious medical condition – check with your doctor if you are unsure.
- Children who have previously been admitted to hospital with a chest infection.
- Children attending schools for those with severe learning difficulties.
- Anyone living in a residential or nursing home.
- Main carers for elderly or disabled people.