https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2018/09/13/flu-vaccination-what-you-need-to-know-about-this-years-programme/

Flu vaccination: What you need to know about this year's programme

With another flu season almost upon us our Medical Director Professor Paul Cosford has answered some key questions about flu and flu vaccination.

Please note we cannot answer any questions that relate to individual health concerns. You should consult your GP or specialist consultant.

What is flu?

Influenza, or flu, is a viral infection that mainly affects the respiratory system. It is usually characterised by fever, chills, headache, aching muscles, joint pain and fatigue.

When should I get vaccinated?

We encourage those who are eligible to get their flu vaccine when they are called for immunisation, so they are protected for the peak of the season which is usually around January and February, although this can change every year.

This year there has been a phased roll out of the new vaccine for those aged 65 and over. This means GPs and pharmacies have received their order later than usual this season mostly in late October or November. All deliveries have now been received and adults aged 65 and over adults aged 65 and over who have not yet been vaccinated should contact their GP or pharmacist to make an appointment.

The flu season can last into spring depending on which strain is circulating and how fast it spreads, but activity usually dies down from March onwards.

Why is flu a problem?

Flu is contagious meaning it can easily be spread to others. Some people with flu do not have any symptoms however they may still be able to pass the virus to others .

In most people, flu is a self-limiting illness, however for some people, particularly those in what we call ‘at-risk’ groups, flu can results in a  serious infection.

Who is most at risk from flu?

There are certain groups who are at higher risk from flu; these include pregnant women, those over the age of 65 and those with serious health conditions. We offer the flu vaccine to people in all of these groups, as well as some children, to help protect them from catching and spreading flu. Eligible people can have their flu vaccine at their GP surgery or a local pharmacy offering the service. Some midwifery services can offer the vaccine to pregnant women each winter.

This year we are introducing a more effective flu vaccine for those aged 65 and over as well as offering all eligible adults under 65 the ‘quadrivalent’ vaccine, which protects against a total of four strains of flu.

What’s new for the 2018/19 flu season?

The newly available ‘adjuvanted’ vaccine for those aged 65 and over is expected to significantly boost effectiveness by improving the body’s immune response to the vaccine. This is important because typically, older adults’ bodies do not respond as well to the flu vaccine due to their naturally weaker immune systems. Older adults are also more likely to suffer complications from flu.

This enhanced vaccine has the potential to lead to:

  • 30,000 fewer GP appointments
  • 2,000 fewer people needing hospital care
  • 700 fewer deaths from flu in England

The broader flu vaccination programme will also be improved by offering all eligible adults under 65, including pregnant women, health care workers and those with serious health conditions, the ‘quadrivalent’ vaccine in injected form. This protects against a total of four strains of flu; two strains of flu A and two strains of flu B.

We will also extend the nasal spray vaccine to primary school children in year 5 (650,000 extra children), meaning the vaccine will be offered in schools to children in reception and in years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 and to two and three year olds through general practice. The programme will eventually roll out to all primary school children. Due to having typically poorer hand and respiratory hygiene than adults, children tend to spread flu more easily, so protecting them is also important for protecting the rest of the population.

National clinical leaders have sent a letter to all chief executives of NHS trusts highlighting the importance of frontline healthcare workers protecting their patients, colleagues and families by getting vaccinated against flu. NHS England has also offered the vaccine to social care workers free of charge again this year that are often in close contact with some of the most vulnerable groups.

How can I protect myself, my family and those around me from the flu?

Flu is very infectious and the virus can live on hands and hard surfaces for up to 24 hours. This is why it is important to “Catch it, Bin it, Kill it” - “Catch” any sneezes in a tissue, “Bin” any tissues immediately and “Kill” the virus by washing your hands with soap and warm water. Avoid contact with sick people and wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub. If you are unwell, look after yourself, drink plenty of fluids and stay at home so you don’t spread flu to others.

The vaccine remains the best defence we have to protect against the spread of flu and we encourage everyone eligible to get it each year.

What types of vaccine should I get?

Adults under 65 in at risk groups and pregnant women are being offered the quadrivalent vaccine this year which protects against four strains of flu.

Those aged 65 and over are being offered the newly introduced enhanced ‘adjuvanted’ version of the trivalent vaccine, which boosts their immune response. As this vaccine has been delivered to GP practices and pharmacies between September and the end of November, appointments for flu vaccination are more spread out than in previous years. It is important that anyone aged 65 or over receives the vaccine that is most effective for their age group. If in doubt you should contact your GP to make an appointment.

Children receiving the flu vaccine as part of the childhood flu vaccination programme will receive a quadrivalent vaccine as a nasal spray – or by injection if they are not eligible to receive the spray.

Will the vaccine work?

How well the vaccine will work varies year on year as we can never fully predict how flu will affect the population. Overall, our data found that the vaccine was not as effective last year as we usually see, particularly for those aged 65 and over. This is why we are bringing in the enhanced vaccine for this group this season. In addition, we are offering the quadrivalent vaccine to all under 65s in at risk groups which will protect against 4 strains of flu.

How are flu vaccine strains decided?

The World Health Organization (WHO) monitors influenza globally and each year convenes a vaccine composition group that recommends the strains of flu virus that should be included in the flu vaccine for the next flu season based on a review of data from around the world.  It then takes 6-8 months for the vaccine manufacturers to produce sufficient quantities of the flu vaccine for the annual campaign.

Flu is unpredictable. If a change in the virus is detected once production has started there isn’t time to change it ahead of the flu campaign.

What about reports of swine flu circulating?

We have reached the point in the season where flu is now circulating, and there have been a number of national media articles recently about ‘swine flu’ cases in the UK.

Swine flu was the unofficial name given almost a decade ago to the then new strain of influenza (flu) that was responsible for the flu pandemic in 2009-2010 (technical name A(H1N1)pdm09). With memories stretching back to that time, it’s perhaps not surprising that there are some concerns when we hear about swine flu.

The reality is that today, ‘swine flu’ is considered one –amongst many– regular types of seasonal flu and we see it circulating most years, with this year being no exception. Given the regularity of the circulation of A(H1N1)pdm09 it is covered by the annual seasonal flu vaccine this, and most, years. Our blog explains further.

What were the uptake rates for 2017/18?

Last year we saw improved uptake rates in all categories:

  • 6% in those aged 65 and over
  • 9% for those aged 6 months to under 65 years of age with one or more underlying health problem
  • 2% in pregnant women
  • 7% in healthcare workers
  • 5% in school aged children
  • 8% and 44.2% in children aged 2 and 3 respectively.

There is clearly still room for improvement within the vaccination programme and we urge everyone who is eligible or responsible for an eligible person to think about protecting their health with the vaccine this winter.

Should all healthcare workers be vaccinated?

Unless contraindicated, healthcare professionals have a responsibility to be vaccinated to protect their patients from flu. Their NHS employers have a responsibility to make it easy for staff to get the vaccine.

90 comments

  1. Comment by John Smith posted on

    I find it fascinating that this is primarily framed about reducing "burden" on the NHS rather than the wellness of the population.

    "Thus enhanced vaccine has the potential to lead to:

    *30,000 fewer GP appointments
    *2,000 fewer people needing hospital care
    *700 fewer deaths from fly in England".

    I note that other coverage influenced by press releases from PHE appear to rank the reduction in "burden" on the NHS as more significant than preventing deaths.

    "Don't be silly, these are in no particular order and free up the NHS to deal with other issues".

    That maybe so but it shows me the prevailing mindset in institutions such as PHE that the general public are essentially a nuisance and controlling the level of illness is to benefit the operation of services rather than about making their lives better.

    • Replies to John Smith>

      Comment by Allie posted on

      Very well said!

    • Replies to John Smith>

      Comment by Mike posted on

      That's how public health works... It's about quantifying benefit to a population and making the best use of resources. Comparing the value of vaccination with the cost of not vaccinating is an objective way to approach the decision about who to vaccinate. In a world with unlimited resources public health would be very different, but that is unrealistic.

    • Replies to John Smith>

      Comment by jonathan posted on

      What a ridiculous comment, what's good for the population in general is good for the NHS as well, they work hand in hand. The article also states that flu 'can result in a serious infection' ie. you may die from it.

      I'm 49 and pay for mine every year, with no side effects at all.

      • Replies to jonathan>

        Comment by Barbara posted on

        Intelligent response from a thinking person... thank you!

    • Replies to John Smith>

      Comment by Peter Garrigan posted on

      I too am having the same issue in obtaining the vaccination and as one who is in the at risk group I am getting very anxious, indeed my local surgery doesn't even think there will be any more clinics,what a shambles!!

      • Replies to Peter Garrigan>

        Comment by Wendy Thornton posted on

        Neither my husband with heart problems , diabetes, disabled , nor myself can get any vaccine . We have tried GPS surgery weekly and most of the chemists and still unable to get one. Though rather confused at why GP keeps sending letters to say I haven't taken up my chance to have the flu jab !!
        The last letter asked me to return a signed waiver to say I didn't want it !

    • Replies to John Smith>

      Comment by Mal posted on

      Well my Dr Called me in for my annual jab, I mentioned the new jab ,but was taken back when told it's not in yet, i asked what am here for , to which the Nurse said the old type jab. which i declined . 71yrs old, Chronic Heart Decease, & Calcification of both lungs cLASSED AS HIGH RISK. , GP wanted to use up existing stock it seem's.

  2. Comment by Patricia Foster posted on

    I move between the UK and Spain which country should I be vaccinated in. I do live in Spain and usually have It done here

    • Replies to Patricia Foster>

      Comment by Blog Editor posted on

      Hi Patricia, it’s important to get the flu vaccine if you are in an eligible group.

  3. Comment by Rory O'Conor posted on

    Poor stats to just show the improvement percentages without showing the actual rates. Can be highly misleading.

    • Replies to Rory O'Conor>

      Comment by EM BARKER posted on

      My thought exactly. So what is the true uptake rate?

    • Replies to Rory O'Conor>

      Comment by R Garrett posted on

      Completely agree. Especially with the title in large bold font just a bove the stats "What were the uptake rates for 2017/18?"

  4. Comment by PaulieDoodle posted on

    Having suffered with the Australian Flu back in January of this year & the fact that it left me with some very serious health problems afterwards I deffo for one will be getting this new Flu Jab this year like I ALWAYS do anyway!! & urge everyone who like me got the original Flu Jab to take the new one!! I'm so lucky to be alive today to say that!!

  5. Comment by M floyd posted on

    Why has my surgery Albion Place Maidstone not been allocated any vaccine for over 65’s. And if I use the chemist in the same building I can’t be vaccinated until 19th November because of lack of supplies by which time I and several other over 65’s could be dead. How can I take up the offer of over 65 vaccine if none is available. I may phone the Kent Messenger and get them to investigate.

    • Replies to M floyd>

      Comment by Blog Editor posted on

      All GP practices and pharmacies have been informed that the vaccine manufacturer will be carrying out a phased delivery of adjuvanted trivalent vaccine during September, October and November. Overall in England, there is no shortage, but some patients may have to wait to receive the adjuvanted vaccine given the phased deliveries.
      In most years, flu does not start circulating before the end of November, so people aged 65 and over are advised to wait for the invitation to have the vaccine and receive their immunisation before the end of November. If you have not had your invitation before the end of November, then you should contact your general practice.
      We hope this helps.

      • Replies to Blog Editor>

        Comment by Dom Herlihy posted on

        M Floyd makes an important point which Blog Editor's reply ignores. M Floyd cannot be vaccinated until 4th week of November, I too, in North Croydon, have the same experience. Given that the vaccine isn't effective until 2 weeks later, that means protection can't be regarded as effective until 1st week of December, which is well into the start of the "flu season"!
        Of course there's a quicker route to getting vaccinated: go to a local pharmacy 'cos , surprise, surprise, these guys have acquired stocks of the 'phased delivery' when your local GP has not. This will do wonders for increasing the 6% of over-65's who get vaccinated (Not!).

    • Replies to M floyd>

      Comment by Irene warrington posted on

      Yes it’s the same at aylesford ,tried Sainsbury’s and was told they had flu vaccine for under 65,s thought it was the same vaccine .my husband thinks it’s a way to decrease. The elderly population

      • Replies to Irene warrington>

        Comment by Mary champion posted on

        In my surgery they have plenty for over 65s, it’s the under with health risk that are not being vaccinated as no stock.

        • Replies to Mary champion>

          Comment by Amanda QKS posted on

          I live at WALTON ON THE NAZE. My husband and I both have multiple conditions and so we require the under 65 quadri vaccine. Normally we have it start of Sept but this year we had to wait until end of Nov. We've been told conflicting explanations regarding the difference beween over 65 tri vacc and our under 65. Also conflicting info as to why we had to wait.
          Truly grateful to NHS BUT would welcome a leaflet definitively explaining the facts about the where when why of our specific jab.
          CONFUSED.

  6. Comment by riancopper posted on

    Thank you for providing us,such a alert to parents on vaccinated.In your article you gave a very good explanation to parents why to be vaccinated their child in earlier stages,it is good for their in future.

  7. Comment by Kathryn posted on

    I volunteer in 2 different day hospices every week, and run a baby & toddler group 3 times a week, yet my gp won't give me the vaccine as I am not paid to work in the health sector. Surely as an unpaid volunteer I might also spread flu?!

  8. Comment by Kathryn posted on

    I volunteer in 2 different day hospices every week, and run a baby & t0oddler group 3 times a week, yet my gp won't give me the vaccine as I am not paid to work in the health sector. Surely as an unpaid volunteer I might also spread flu?!

  9. Comment by Ella posted on

    My child (6) will be receiving the injection as she is undergoing chemotherapy for Leukaemia. I’m not happy about getting son (3) vaccinated with the injection. How long after getting my daughter vaccinated would it be safe for my son to have the nasal spray?

    • Replies to Ella>

      Comment by Jenny posted on

      It makes no difference when you give them to each of your children, they could have them on the same day without any problems.

  10. Comment by Sarah Tombe posted on

    Our GPpractice is finding it difficult to get enough vaccines. My husband and I had our appointments cancelled two weeks ago due to lack of vaccine. We’re still waiting to hear (we’re both 66).

  11. Comment by Niki posted on

    Are the uptake rates really that low - in the single percentage? It seems to me the wrong stats have been reported

  12. Comment by Sara Lee posted on

    My GP surgery is expecting more vaccine for over 65's & asking you to book in beginning of November...the Chemist onsite also.I am away on holiday November 6th for a fortnight. I am really worried that I may not get my jab before I go. The last thing that I want to do is to be sitting on a plane without one. Any suggestions?

  13. Comment by R Garrett posted on

    Completely agree. Especially with the title in a large bold font just above the stats "What were the uptake rates for 2017/18?"

  14. Comment by Doz posted on

    I had the new over 65 flu shot last tuesday... i,d had a bit of a cold that had lingered for a week or two, but was,nt poorly with it when I had the shot. Since then apart from usual sore arm and feeling a bit uncomfortable (though that would,nt stop me having it) I have felt quite run down disturbed sleep and tired since.. is this just a lingering side effect if the new shot which i,m told the over 65 one is stronger than normal flu shot or because I'd had a cold prior to shot?

    • Replies to Doz>

      Comment by Laura posted on

      Hi Doz, It is more than likely because of your cold symptoms. Having the flu jab with any form of viral or bacterial infection can heighten symptoms. I hope you’re feeling better now.

    • Replies to Doz>

      Comment by Zena posted on

      Yes I’ve had tiredness and sleeplessness too

      • Replies to Zena>

        Comment by Doz posted on

        Thanks for your reply's I think a few people have had a few lingering colds but feeling much better now xx

    • Replies to Doz>

      Comment by Sylvia Wall posted on

      Hello the new over 65 flu jab only has extra antibodies in that's all to try to make your antibodies fight better rubbish, and only has 3 flu protections,ages under 65 has four and it isint being given to over 65s.to save £2 per
      PERSON THE GOVERMENT ARE Not willing to pay out for over 65 yr old so we have 3 strains and NOT the new and needed 4th flu strain protectiion

    • Replies to Doz>

      Comment by Sylvia Wallwall posted on

      Hi new flu injection for over 65 and over it only, has more immune in it, but it's the 3 strain only. the NEW 4 strain the goverment will not give to 65yrs and over but will give to under 65s

  15. Comment by Bernard posted on

    If this wasn’t free would we be so fixated on having this done?
    Anything for nothing today, we have people here in Essex who think it’s their divine right to get an appointment with their gp for another packet of paracetamol for nothing, when we just go and spend 25p on a packet from Savers.

  16. Comment by Richard Foinette posted on

    Yesterday I had my appointment for a flu jab next week cancelled because of a shortage of vaccine. As I am away from 6 November for 3 weeks, I have to phone for another appointment next week as their system does not allow booking that far ahead. I first asked about the flu jab in the third week of September! I just hope that I can get an appointment before the vaccine runs out or I actually catch the flu. I qualify on 2 counts, being over 65 and having had a heart attack and an increasingly concerned.

    • Replies to Richard Foinette>

      Comment by Blog Editor posted on

      It is important to ensure you receive your flu vaccine before flu starts to circulate, usually in late December. Speak to you GP or pharmacist about getting vaccinated, but you should be able to be protected in early December.

  17. Comment by Mrs veal posted on

    Side affects of new flu jabs for over 65 doesn’t any one know

    • Replies to Mrs veal>

      Comment by Linda Heywood posted on

      Had over 65 vaccination 1st Nov at 2pm. By evening approx 20.30hrs I was uncontrollably shaking with cold, aching, feeling really ill. Went to bed than literally burnt up. I'm still aching and today Saturday have diorreah, stomach pains and very tired .... Even though I slept most of yesterday. I was not Ill beforehand and NEVER had a reaction like this. Feel so unwell. Always had flu jab but doubts have set in through this experience.

    • Replies to Mrs veal>

      Comment by maureen sperinck posted on

      I had a flu jab nov 9th and it has left me with a stiff and sore arm for days ,my previous ones didn't so it must be this new one for 2018/19

    • Replies to Mrs veal>

      Comment by Paula posted on

      I’m 54, female. Had jab a week ago felt dizzy, faint, shaking and hit and cold. Went to A&E in ambulance from pharmacist and kept in over night. Doctor said I suffered a rare side effect. A week later still very achy and tired. Not impressed that no one knew about this side effect. I have no idea how long this will last. Won’t be having another!

  18. Comment by Bob Holbrook posted on

    It is annoying when your main surgery (Peacehaven) sends out the letters giving you a date/time. 100s queue in the street with their letters and 1/2hour later a member of staff stands at each he back of the queue ensuring late comers can’t join. Another 1/2 hour passes and half the queue are told. “ Go home as we have not enough vaccinations” there were lots of very elderly and infirm people in that queue. Having heard roumers of shortages, I’d even checked with the surgery the day before that there was sufficient. Well done admin staff at Meridian/Anchor health Center. Have your Xmas present suggestions ready for your relatives. Abacus comes to mind.

  19. Comment by Eddie Lord posted on

    No Flu jabs for over 65s in Tavistock Devon,? told might be late November
    I fear a cold coming on .........

  20. Comment by Chris Green posted on

    You all seem very concerned about getting vaccinated, whether it will be free and when it will be available but the question you should be asking is
    "WILL IT WORK THIS YEAR ?"
    It certainly gave no protection whatsoever to over 65's in 2016/2017.
    Was totally ineffective against strain A(H3N20) in 2018 and there is no reason to believe the adjuvant added to the trivalent vaccine that is to be offered to the over 65's this season will prove any better than previous years all but useless vaccinations.
    Personally I sincerely doubt it.

    • Replies to Chris Green>

      Comment by Blog Editor posted on

      Since we launched the seasonal flu vaccination programme in 2000, the best clinical guidance has been used to inform the vaccines issued. We hope the adjuvanted vaccine will show improved effectiveness in older people and will help to prevent deaths and ease the burden on health services from flu. We can’t estimate effectiveness in advance but mathematical modelling has showed that the implementation of the newly available vaccine could prevent over 700 deaths in hospital, 2000 hospitalisations and 30,000 GP consultations every year. We will monitor the effectiveness of the adjuvanted vaccine use this winter and will report back on it later next year.

  21. Comment by Amanda Chapman posted on

    Can you tell me what is in the vaccine please ?? I keep reading that it's got Antifreeze and poisons in it and I'm worried . I've felt terrible since I've had it .

    Thanks
    Amanda Chapman
    Mooney621@googlemail.com

    • Replies to Amanda Chapman>

      Comment by Blog Editor posted on

      Ingredients in this year’s flu vaccines can be found here: https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/666/smpc. There is no antifreeze present in any of the vaccines. Serious side effects of the injected flu vaccine are very rare. You may have a mild fever and aching muscles for a couple of days after having the vaccine, and your arm may be a bit sore where you were injected.

  22. Comment by Mr. D. Daw posted on

    I worked with a colleague for 35 years and each year I would contract a cold shortly after his inoculation, this was a regular thing, I do not partake in the process of inoculation and have relied on natural resistance to to keep the "bug"( whatever strain) at bay, I do have an occasional cold/hay-fever infection but nothing too devastating, I do think that by joining the inoculation "club" the spread of the virus is advanced.. I am 78 years of age and must have sampled a variety of different "cold" bugs from the times of Real austerity I. E. Wartime and the aftermath where food and fruit availability was at a genuine low. Antibiotics were not as common as they are today and that diet and hygiene were not exactly the main theme, in general, clinical conditions were appalling and strangely, as a result we have to date, a large number of ageing survivors to tell the tale... So, are we missing something? Fast food and obesity, air pollution, and the stress of living beyond our means and overuse of antibiotics.( A potent warning to the "not so aged"!)
    I do think good food and hygiene and healthy exercise is paramount to restoring general health and is the antidote to most illnesses (over patronising the pharmaceutical barons is not the answer) My use of drugs extends to using a couple of aspirins now and then. Finally, having an inoculation to help prevent a flu infection is one thing, but in its wake, unwittingly infects someone else is not such a good idea! Please don't say this doesn't happen as I have experienced it!

  23. Comment by Jenny posted on

    My elderly house bound parents have told me that they have been given last years flu vaccine today because of the shortage of the over 65 jab Is this the correct action ?

    • Replies to Jenny>

      Comment by Blog Editor posted on

      We are unable to provide advice on individual situations. We recommend contacting your GP to discuss your options.

  24. Comment by Deborah Rutherford posted on

    Can I ask who determines if you are eligible for a free flu jab please. I’ve had it done for years but have been told I no longer qualify this year despite my condition being life long. Thanks

  25. Comment by Brenda Ayer posted on

    At 82 I had the under65’s flu jab at the pharmacy. I hav e since discovered that there is a stronger one for the over 65’s. should I also have this stronger vaccine at the GP’s?

    • Replies to Brenda Ayer>

      Comment by Blog Editor posted on

      We are unable to provide advice on individual situations. We recommend contacting your GP to discuss your options.

  26. Comment by Dave posted on

    I hear in the news more and more on how the old are living longer. The news goes on to say that it's costing the NHS billions each year. Call me a cynic but because of all the bad press I have read about people living too long I for one, the first time in 20 years will not be having the shot for over 65s or the other one come to that. I don't trust government and they could be out to shorten our lives not save them.

  27. Comment by S. Hammond posted on

    SH OADBY Leics. we are so lucky to have the choice of having a flu jab. So what if it's a little late. Better late than never.

  28. Comment by Angela Bouch posted on

    Same everywhere not bring able to get vaccinated if over 65. No information given out at GP'S as to reason why, just a lot of notices and even a large carboard cut out urging you to book your flu jab now. Impossible when they don't have any. I will be very interested to see what the uptake will be compared to previous year.

  29. Comment by K J Oliver posted on

    We had ours in Newquay at GP’s surgery

  30. Comment by Mike Matthews posted on

    I would love to know what the exact uptake rates are for the UK. Not the quoted annual increase. Are they trying to hide the true figures because they are pretty low ? I would love to be informed. I await with interest

  31. Comment by Michael Matthews posted on

    I would love to know what the exact uptake rates are for the UK. Not the quoted annual increase. Are they trying to hide the true figures because they are pretty low ? I would love to be informed. I await with interest

  32. Comment by Paul Manning posted on

    Milton Keynes 2nd November 2018.
    No flu vaccine available at my G.P. have been phoning every day for last month as I have COPD that I dont want to exacerbate, by contracting flu, if at all possible. None available to buy at any MK pharmacy groups inc Boots, lloyds, Tesco...
    All have said sorry; supply problems; one supplier only for UK; keep calling back, maybe next week; can't say when...
    This is really rubbish!
    Do you have any solid information, as I have seen comments by NHS England denying a shortage; which is evidently not true.
    Who do I talk to about this?
    I have written to my M.P. ; useless prat though he is, however, I would encourage other people to do the same and ask them to question the Health Minister. Why is there an almost complete absence of Flu vaccine in the UK for the over 65's?

    • Replies to Paul Manning>

      Comment by Angela Bouch posted on

      I quite agree with you. Husband still trying to get his from GP surgery as on the 7/11/18, no information what so ever from surgery, just state they are out of stock, I now believe they have some more supplies in but do not know When they will be doing the clinics, just told to keep asking, how many people are going to be ringing their GP every few days, I fear the uptake will be low this year

    • Replies to Paul Manning>

      Comment by Angela Bouch posted on

      Have already brought this to the attention of Health Watch, will so so again.

  33. Comment by John Charles Brown posted on

    This is all beginning to look like a pack of lies. Lloyds and Boots pharmacies in Towcester, Daventry and Banbury have no vaccine at all for the >65, and they say that "regulations do not allow us to issue the <65 one".
    My GP "hopes" to run a vaccination clinic on 19th. November "if the vaccine arrives". The earlies I can book is 30th. November, and according to advice, I will not build up immunity until 14th. December. My GP's counter staff no doubt wanted to cover for somebody, and told me to turn up at a walk-in clinic. In a waiting room designed for 25 people there must have been 100, with just 1.5 hours to go before that clinic closed.
    You run extensive advertising campaigns to get people vaccinated, and then make no effort at all to deliver the vaccine.

    • Replies to John Charles Brown>

      Comment by Angela Bouch posted on

      This is a terrible situation. I will report back to health watch. Husband is still waiting hear.

    • Replies to John Charles Brown>

      Comment by Blog Editor posted on

      It is important that those eligible are protected before flu starts to circulate, usually in late December. NHS England has confirmed that there is no overall shortage of the ‘adjuvanted’ vaccine, but there is a staggered roll out. GPs and pharmacies who have ordered the vaccine will receive their order this season, but delivery has been staggered between September and November, meaning that adults aged 65 and over will be invited to come in at varying times in the lead up to the flu season to be vaccinated. The manufacturer, Seqirus, has confirmed all orders for the over 65 population will be delivered by mid-November.

  34. Comment by Wendy O’Gar posted on

    I am an employee of the health service and attended my Gp surgery for flu vaccine today to be told that I cannot get the flu vaccine due to a) not having a serious health condition b) being under 65 and c) being off maternity leave but I can buy the flu vaccine from boots at £ 12.99.i am a tax payer and pay my national insurance every month,under no circumstances should I have to pay for my flu vaccine never mind be refused it.i am proactively trying to prevent myself from getting the flu and having to run to the Gp and I mean beg for an antibiotic to clear it up and may I also add I am a full time mother and can not afford to be sick or pass the flu into my family eithier.i have never been refused the flu vaccine from my previous Gp practice in the south of Ireland before moving to Northern Ireland.i cannot understand why this vaccine is not available to anyone nevermind the serious health catergory.i previously received the flu vaccaine due to taken serious strains of the flu and being really unwell.i mean so so weak and bearly able to move..tragically a young married man with two young kids lost his life last year due to the Austrialian flu.if this vaccine was available to all,would this young man still be alive today,you tell me!!!

  35. Comment by Claire Benge posted on

    School age children are now vaccinated at school as part of the present Govt policy. Their website states that all should be vaccinated before the end of October.
    The schools which my grandchildren attend have been given dates of Nov 22nd and Dec 6th. Individual GPs will not carry out an earlier vaccination because they do not receive money to vaccinate school age children.
    My 5 year old granddaughter has just been taken to hospital with flu, following an epidemic at her school.

    • Replies to Claire Benge>

      Comment by Blog Editor posted on

      The school-based programme is implemented by NHS England. It has to be delivered in a short time frame to all primary schools from early October when the vaccine becomes available and involves considerable planning and engagement with schools. Everyone should have received an offer of the vaccine before mid-December as flu usually circulates by January. Providers plan to visit each school before Christmas. This does mean that some children will be offered immunisation later in the year. However, any child at risk because of an underlying medical condition is able to attend their GP for immunisation so would not have to wait.

      Nonetheless this schedule ensures the programme is likely to be completed before influenza circulation starts, which is usually late in December or January. Evaluation of the United Kingdom paediatric influenza vaccine programme since its introduction has provided encouraging results of its effectiveness and population impact.

  36. Comment by Dee Geraghty posted on

    It's the same in Cardiff. None of the large pharmacies (Lloyds, Boots, Tesco etc) have the over 65's vaccine. Pharmacies said supplies should have been delivered 1st week November & they do not know when delivery will happen. My GP's surgery only offers flu jabs to the UNDER 65's, all of whom were vaccinated in the surgery in OCTOBER. The GP surgery does not have the over 65 flu vaccine. This is discrimination of the over 65 age group. Will contact Community Pharmacy Wales, governing body, & Health Minister, Welsh Assembly tomorrow. Health matters are devolved in Wales & Scotland. Intersting this is a UK wide prejudice against the elderly. That's my view. Thanks for reading this. DG

  37. Comment by Sue Badman posted on

    We have the same supply issues at GPs and pharmacies in Dulwich and Herne Hill, South London. And my next opportunity for a vaccine for over 65s is 10 days/ two weeks time ie on 20 Nov by appointment and on 24 Nov as a walk-in at my GP surgery which is in Lambeth CCG.

    I have had an annual flu injection for years due to respiratory illness. I am however concerned about the safety of the new 65+ vaccine. Any thoughts?

  38. Comment by Fabienne posted on

    Hi,
    I’m pregnant and wonder whether the flu jab I was administered contained mercury? Does the 2018-2019 quadrivalent vaccine contain mercury?
    Thank you.

  39. Comment by Adam posted on

    To all the pathetic people that have an overwhelming sense of entitlement please get a grip! We don’t live in a world with unlimited resources and you clearly have nothing better to do than to sit here and ridicule the NHS so why don’t you simply lock yourself in your house for the next few months and not bother with the jab. You would be contributing to making the world a better place. Thanks

  40. Comment by Brian posted on

    There is no good reason the under 65 vaccine can't be used for those over 65, in fact for those in good health might be better. Unless you believe some amazing metaphorphis takes place the second you hit 65!

  41. Comment by Angela Bouch posted on

    Why are we all still waiting for the over 65 vaccine. Do you honestly think people are going to keep ringing their GP SURGERIES on a daily basis, they are going to give up and not get vaccinated. My GPs surgery giving out no information at all. It is going to leave a lot of people vulnerable.

  42. Comment by Alfons Michel posted on

    It would be interesting to know a bit more about the benefits/disadvantages of the over 65 jab: what is the gain of the adjuvanted jab compared to the fact that it protects against fewer strains? How does one outweigh the other?....and can this so neatly be aligned to a 65 age issue or should one consider other factors like general health and fitness?

    • Replies to Alfons Michel>

      Comment by Blog Editor posted on

      The ‘adjuvanted’ vaccine, which is being offered to all adults aged 65 and over, has a ‘boosted’ immune response meaning it is more effective at offering people in this age group protection from flu. Although these vaccine covers against 3 strains rather than 4, these are the strains (in particular the flu A(H3N2) strain) that tend to affect older people more. The benefit of the boosted immune response outweighs the potential protection of a fourth strain (a second B strain which tends to affect young age groups). We urge everyone aged 65 and over to take up the offer of the vaccine.

  43. Comment by hilary christine newman posted on

    I was very sick on and off for 4 months last year after having the flu jab, I was not 100% sure it was the flu jab? I kept a diary to record how I felt, I have had the flu jab 4 weeks ago 19th October 2018 and feel EXACTLY the same as last year, feeling nauseous, anxiety, nervous, blurred vision, and generally unwell again!!! Now I KNOW its the flu jab because my diary records the same things, They say it will not make you ill, IT DOES, and I will NEVER have it again, June, July, August, September, October I was in full perfect health, now I am upset I have got to feel ill for months again until its out of my system. I know most people feel fine, but there are also MANY others they feel ill from these flu jabs and NOT for just a few days.

  44. Comment by Lynne posted on

    What if someone has an auto immune disease and is over 65? Is it a bad idea for them to have the boosted immunity? My mum has MS and she's 81

    • Replies to Lynne>

      Comment by Blog Editor posted on

      The injected flu vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to anyone with a serious long-term health condition and all those aged 65 and over. Multiple sclerosis is one of the long-term health conditions that means you should receive the vaccine together with your age, although your GP should take into account your individual clinical needs, including any other health conditions you have.

  45. Comment by Anna posted on

    Would it be advisable for adults under 65 to pay for the flu jab privately?

  46. Comment by Nell yallop posted on

    Agree with previous poster Adam-where does everyone think all the resources -vaccines staff to administer paperwork etc gets funded from?.-i am by no means wealthy am 61 and immunosupessed from previous chemotherapy-last year I caught flu before vaccinated and have never been so ill in my life-this year I got of my backside and found a place (Asda) cost £5-everything cannot be free and endless complaining , ringing surgeries etc ours stress on limited resources for things people can’t source themselves
    £5-10 is unbelievably cheap if you take staff training /time and the vaccine costs in-as Nike says “just do it”

  47. Comment by Sylvia Wall posted on

    The goverment are Kidding that 65 is new vacine it only has a little extra immune put in and only has the 3 strains flu in it. The new flu injection is only for under !!! 65s and that has 4 strains or flu protection l and the goverment wont pay for the very effective NEW flu protection four over 65s.

  48. Comment by Anna posted on

    So, why can't I get my 2 year old twins vaccinated - their birthday is just after the August cut-off point. With take up being low, I would have thought the NHS would have been pleased that I asked for the vaccine for my children or give substantive health advise rather than 'mmh / ooh, they are not eligible' - if it makes medical sense for someone 1 months older than them, surely common sense would dictate that they should have it too?

    Happy to pay too, but difficult to get sensible advise on medical usefulness beyond eligibility discussions. Not happy with the guidance.

    • Replies to Anna>

      Comment by Blog Editor posted on

      Since the start of the programme in 2013, all two year old children have been eligible for flu vaccination. This year, a two year old child is eligible provided they were aged 2 on the 31 August 2018 (that is, children born between 1 September 2014 and 31 August 2016).

      We recognise that some children who were initially unable to receive the vaccine (because they were under two years of age on 31 August) will reach two years old during the flu season. At this stage they become able to receive the flu vaccine under the product license but will not be eligible under the national programme. Unfortunately a line has to be drawn somewhere in the interests of protecting the optimum number of children, whilst making the most effective use of the vaccine early enough in the flu season. Furthermore, the vaccine is only licensed for children aged two to under eighteen years so children under the age of two years should not receive the vaccine. Setting a cut-off date reduces the risk of children who are under this age receiving the vaccine by accident and allows the vaccine to be given in time for the flu season.

      Children older than 6 months who are in clinical risk groups, such as those who are asthmatic, or who have chronic respiratory disease or diabetes for example, have been eligible for the flu vaccine for many years, and still are. Those under 2 years of age are not offered the nasal spray but an alternative injectable form of the vaccine. If you have any concerns as to whether you child is in a clinical risk group, then please consult your GP.