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More people than ever vaccinated against flu in Norfolk and Waveney

GP practices and community pharmacies have vaccinated tens of thousands more people who are at greater risk from flu than the same time last year.

By 16 October, 168,000 people eligible for a free NHS vaccine had received theirs, compared to 122,000 last year.

Amongst the over 65s – the age group most vulnerable to flu – 126,500 people, or just short of 50% of those living in Norfolk and Waveney, had been vaccinated. Locally the NHS is on track to hit and should exceed the 75% target for vaccinations in the over 65s.

Dr Anoop Dhesi, local GP and Chair of NHS Norfolk and Waveney CCG, said:

“Influenza is a nasty respiratory illness which kills around 15,000 people across the country each year. It leaves many other people, particularly those with long term conditions and the frail elderly, so poorly that they have to be admitted to hospital.

“Getting the flu vaccine is more important than ever this year, as people at high risk from COVID-19 are also those most at risk from flu. As well as helping to protect you and your family from a serious virus, getting vaccinated is also one way that you can help to ease pressure on the NHS and social care as they continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic this winter.”

GP practices have been working hard to administer the vaccine at their surgeries and at mass clinics whilst maintaining Covid-safe practices for patients and staff. Heathgate Medical Practice used Poringland Community Centre to vaccinate 1,000 people and the Coastal Partnership practices have created their own drive-throughs.

Dr Anoop Dhesi, added: “This is a real testament to our local GP practices and community pharmacies, who have risen to the additional challenges they are faced with this year, such as delivering the vaccination programme with increased infection prevention and control measures in place.”

The flu vaccine is always delivered and administered in a phased approach, with vaccine supplies being release gradually so that those most at risk across the country receive it first.

Early demand for the flu vaccine has been higher than usual. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has recently announced how all GP surgeries can access additional national supplies of influenza vaccine.

As flu levels generally do not begin to rise until December, people do not need to get vaccinated in September or October, as the vaccination programme continues right up until and into the flu season.

This year will be the most comprehensive flu programme ever, with more people eligible for a free vaccination. As well as offering the free flu vaccine to people who are at greatest risk, there is a national ambition to offer the vaccination to all people aged 50 to 64 years old, who aren’t already in an at-risk group, later in the year. People in this age group should wait until they are invited by their GP practice to receive their vaccination.

More information on who is eligible for the free flu vaccine is available here https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/who-should-have-flu-vaccine/

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