Fewer 'at risk' people get flu jab
Fewer ‘at risk’ people in South Tyneside came forward for a flu jab despite rocketing case numbers.
People aged over 65, people with a pre-existing medical condition, pregnant women and two to three year olds have been encouraged to get the flu jab as they are at higher risk of complications from the virus.
UK Health Security Agency figures show 39,958 people in these groups in South Tyneside had received the jab by the end of December – 63% of the 63,370 patients at higher risk and down from 67.1% at the same point last winter.
The number of children vaccinated has also dropped – with 38.5% of two and three-year-olds in the area getting a vaccination – down from 46.6% last winter.
In England, 62.2% of people in higher risk groups had received the jab by the end of last year – down from 64.9% the previous year and the NHS is urging people to get the jab if they have not already.
Infections have rocketed throughout the winter with an average of 2,224 hospital beds a day occupied by a patient suffering from flu.
NHS England said lower vaccination rates were not to blame for the rise in flu numbers - attributing increased infection rates in the community to two winters of reduced activity during the pandemic.
Dr Conall Watson, consultant epidemiologist at the UK Health Security Agency, said: "While flu levels are falling, winter is not over yet and we need to guard against further surges, and vaccination is our best defence against flu.
"Getting the vaccine protects against the potentially serious complications flu can cause."