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Only one-in-five 50- to 65-year-olds have had their flu vaccine

Booster vaccination

By Jess Hacker
2 November 2021

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Just over one-in-five 50- to 65-year-olds have had their flu vaccine, new general practice data has revealed.

The data – collected between 1 and 30 September and published by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) – indicates that in the first month of the campaign only 21% (1.09 million) of people over 50 but under 65 came forward for their jab.

This number rises slightly (30%), for people aged 50 to 65 who are also in a clinical risk group.

By contrast, more than half (53%) of over 65s have been vaccinated against influenza. JCVI guidance outlines that over 65s should be offered a different vaccine (aQIV) to those under 65 (QIVc/QIV).

The data, collected from 40% of practices in England, also showed that only 18% of pregnant women have had their flu vaccination.

It comes days after the UKHSA published figures indicating only six-in-10 (61%) GP practice staff have received their flu jab, compared to 91% uptake for second Covid doses.

This season marks the second year in a row that all over-50s have been eligible for a free flu shot, with NHS England later telling practices to co-administer the flu and Covid vaccines where possible.

However, early in September practices began cancelling thousands of flu vaccine appointments after a delay of up to two weeks on deliveries of flu vaccine stock.

Despite this, that vaccines minister had said that delivery issues would not delay the overall flu vaccination programme ‘at all’.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) this weekend announced that practices can now administer some Covid booster shots five months after a patients’ second vaccine dose to help with co-administering flu vaccines.

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