Several constituents have contacted Mike Freer MP over recent weeks about this year’s NHS flu vaccination programme for the over 65s. Mike contacted the Minister for an update.
The Health Minister responsible, Steve Brine MP, has now circulated a letter to all MPs which gives more details of the programme and explains why you should not worry if your local GP does not have the vaccine in stock at present – the new vaccine is being phased in and will become available in the coming weeks, ahead of flu season.
The text of the Minister's letter is as follows:
National Flu Immunisation Programme – new vaccine for the over 65s
As winter approaches, the annual NHS flu vaccination campaign has begun – and NHS England recently wrote to you with guidance on how you can help those of your constituents who are eligible to take up their free NHS jab. This year even more people are eligible – around 22 million – including social care workers, who were offered free vaccinations for the first time last year, as well as hospice staff for the first time.
If any of your constituents who are over 65 have approached their GP or local pharmacy and been unable to access the vaccine on that visit, I’d like to enlist your help in reassuring those constituents that flu vaccines will be available. The advice is to ring ahead and book an appointment with their GP or pharmacy. Constituents may also find the attached leaflet helpful.
For the first time this year, those aged 65 and over will be offered the adjuvanted trivalent vaccine (aTIV), which is designed to boost the body’s immune response, improving the effectiveness of the vaccine in the older age group. This vaccine was recommended by our expert advisory group – the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. This newly available vaccine could avert 30,000 GP consultations and 700 deaths a year.
In its first year, the deliveries of the vaccine are being phased with 40% in September, 20% in October and 40% by 17 November. Around 5m doses of the vaccine have already been delivered in England. The flu season normally starts in December or later meaning that people will still be able to access their vaccine in time, and will benefit from the better vaccine and protection.
STEVE BRINE MP
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health and Primary Care
39 Victoria Street London SW1H 0EU