Virus fears 'drove up' flu vaccine numbers

Coronavirus fears look to have driven the number of older people in Sunderland who got a flu jab over the winter to record numbers, according to new figures

Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 1:35 pm
Record flu vaccine uptake

Public Health England (PHE) figures show 53,698 people aged 65 and over received a flu vaccine in the city between September 2020 and February.

This was 82.8% of all those registered with GPs in the area - up from 73% the year before, and the highest proportion since records began in 2013-14.

PHE said the 80.9% uptake nationally – also a record – was likely a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the lack of a Covid-19 vaccine until December.

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The figures also show that 54.8% of clinically “at risk” people in Sunderland had a flu jab between September and February.

The Royal College of GPs praised the "incredible" efforts of healthcare workers for the achievement, but has called for details on how the flu and Covid vaccine booster programmes will be rolled out together this year.

Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the organisation, said urgent questions need answered regarding how the flu vaccine programme will work alongside a Covid-19 booster jab, and who would be eligible.

He added: “The flu vaccine is the best protection we have against flu and a high take up was especially important due to the pandemic.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We are continuing to plan for a Covid-19 booster programme later in the year and further details of the winter flu vaccination programme will be set out in due course.”