A new flu vaccine for the over-65s deemed by health experts to be capable of preventing deaths and significantly reducing the pressure on the NHS will be available in the UK for the first time from early next month.
Public Health England (PHE) believes the vaccine can reduce GP consultations by 30,000, hospitalisations by more than 2,000 and prevent over 700 hospital flu-related deaths. The treatment works by improving the body’s immune response to the vaccine.
PHE also announced during its annual conference at Warwick University that the “quadrivalent” vaccine in injected form, which protects against four strains of flu – two strains of flu A and two strains of flu B – will be offered to all eligible adults under 65 including pregnant women and those with long-term health conditions.
Professor Paul Cosford, medical director at PHE, said: “Flu is potentially a very serious illness and we know adults over 65 are more likely to catch and have complications from flu so have the most to gain from an improved vaccine. By introducing an enhanced flu vaccine for this age group they will be better protected as well as helping to reduce the spread of flu to those around them.
“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. We encourage everyone who is eligible to get the flu vaccine from their general practice or pharmacy before the end of November.”
PHE will launch a marketing campaign on October 8 aimed at at-risk groups including pregnant women, parents of children aged two to three and adults with long-term conditions.
“The campaign will be one of the first to roll out under the newly launched ‘Help Us Help You’ brand. ‘Help Us Help You’ is based on the concept of reciprocity, encouraging people to take appropriate actions (be that getting the flu vaccination or accessing the appropriate service) to better enable the NHS to help them,” PHE said.
“Eligible adults are encouraged to get their free vaccine from their local general practice or pharmacy before the end of November to protect themselves and their families before flu reaches its seasonal peak. It is the single best way to protect against a potentially very serious illness.”