New vaccine offers over 65s more protection from flu

Dr Charles Ashton receiving his flu jabTop local doctors are urging people aged over 65 to protect themselves from flu with the new vaccine.

This year, a more effective vaccine is for the first time available in the UK for those aged 65 and over. It has the potential to reduce GP consultations, hospitalisations and prevent deaths from flu in England, alleviating some of the health burden that seasonal flu places on the population, workplaces and the NHS.

The newly available ‘adjuvanted’ vaccine is expected to significantly boost effectiveness by improving the body’s immune response to the vaccine. This is important because typically, older adults’ bodies do not respond as well to the flu vaccine due to their naturally weaker immune systems. Older adults are also more likely to suffer complications from flu.

The broader flu vaccination programme will also be improved by offering all eligible adults under 65, including pregnant women and those with long term health conditions, the ‘quadrivalent’ vaccine in injected form. This protects against a total of four strains of flu; two strains of flu A and two strains of flu B.

Dr Charles Ashton, Medical Director at South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Flu is serious and is different to the common cold, so much so that it kills an average of 8000 people a year. This is why a free flu vaccination is offered to those who are at increased risk from the effects of flu. These include people aged 65 and over, pregnant women, those with underlying health conditions and children aged two to nine.

“Experience has taught us that adults over 65 are more likely to get flu and experience complications. While it is important for all at risk groups to have their flu jab, this is why we are targeting over 65s and encouraging them to protect themselves, and those around them, by receiving the enhanced vaccine.”

Further protection will be gained by offering flu vaccine to more children this year and giving a vaccine that provides protection against four strains of flu to all eligible people under the age of 65.

All those who are eligible to get the flu vaccine can do so from their GP or pharmacy before the end of November.



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