(Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Flu vaccination uptake during the pandemic has moved up among healthcare workers, including community pharmacy staff, data from Public Health England has revealed.

By the end of October, over half (51.6 per cent) of healthcare workers vaccinated – over 100,000 more when compared to the same period last year.

“England achieves some of the highest flu vaccine uptake rates in Europe for healthcare workers. Vaccination protects frontline staff – who are more likely to be exposed to flu at work – while also providing indirect protection to vulnerable patients,” the PHE has said.

Three-quarters (75 per cent) of those aged 65 and over in England received the free vaccine so far this year – up from 72.4 per cent at the end of the last flu season.

As part of this year’s expanded NHS flu vaccination programme, children in year seven have been offered the vaccine for the first time this year. Uptake in this year is higher than all other school groups, with more than a quarter (158,748) of year seven children vaccinated by the end of October.

Vaccinating children prevents them from passing the virus on to family members and others at greater risk of serious complications including death.

A steep rise in the uptake of the flu vaccination is a promising start to the season, and anyone who is eligible but has not yet been vaccinated is encouraged to take up the offer before flu starts circulating in the community – especially for pregnant women and those with long-term health conditions, where uptake is currently 32.2 per cent and 41.2 per cent.

Public Health England’s Dr Vanessa Saliba said: “We have had an incredible start to the flu vaccination programme, with record uptake in two to three year olds and rates in over 65s – the highest since the 2005 to 2006 season. With over 30 million doses available this season, more people than ever are being offered a free flu vaccine.

“There is still time to get vaccinated against flu before it starts circulating in the community. We are urging anyone who is eligible to take up the offer. By getting the jab, you can help protect yourself, your family and the NHS – it will help save lives.”

The vaccine is the best defence against flu and it is more important than ever this year as Covid-19 will be circulating during the flu season.

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