The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, is reminding everyone in an at-risk group to come forward and join the estimated seven million people who have already had the vaccine this year.
Latest figures published today show that, so far this year, the following have had the vaccine:
- 55% of people (5.1 million) aged 65 or over
- 32% of people (1.8 million) under the age of 65 in at risk groups
- 14% of (51,000) pregnant women
The Chief Medical Officer has said that she wants to see 75% of the 65 years and older group and 60% of under 65s in at risk groups get vaccinated this year.
The vaccine does not give you the flu
To encourage take up of the vaccine, Dame Sally is making clear that the vaccine does not give people the flu. This follows a recent poll for the Department of Health, which showed that 58% of people wrongly believe that the flu jab actually gives people the flu.
People who have a liver disease, heart or chest problems, neurological conditions, those aged 65 or over and all pregnant women are among the groups being urged to make an appointment with their GP to have a flu jab if they haven’t already done so.
Dame Sally said: “I can categorically state that the flu jab does not give you flu. The vaccine does not include the live virus.
“It can save your life though. Flu can kill – and it can be particularly dangerous for people in at risk groups. They are on average 11 times more likely to die from flu than a healthy person is.
“If you haven’t been called for a flu jab and are in an at risk group, it’s time to contact your GP to make an appointment. If you’re in an at risk group, it’s free on the NHS.”
People in an at risk group are more likely to die if they get flu than a “healthy” person.
Who should have the vaccine?
Everyone who falls into the following groups is advised to have the flu vaccine:
- people aged 65 years or over
- pregnant women in any stage of pregnancy
- people living in a residential or nursing home
- the main carer for an older or disabled person
People are also advised to have the flu vaccine if they have any of the following conditions :
- a heart problem
- a chest complaint or breathing difficulties including, bronchitis, emphysema
- a kidney disease
- lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as steroid medication or cancer treatment)
- a liver disease
- had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
- a neurological condition e.g. multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy
- a problem with, or removal of, your spleen e.g. sickle cell disease
The flu vaccine is free to everyone in these groups.