New figures reveal low uptake for flu jab amongst high-risk Redbridge residents
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New figures reveal last year’s flu jab rate for Redbridge’s most high-risk residents fell below target, as the government aims to ramp up vaccinations this autumn.
Public Health England data shows that just 44 per cent of people in the borough deemed clinically ‘at risk’ had the vaccine between September and February — well below the minimum target of 55pc.
The ‘at risk’ group includes those with serious diseases aged between six months and 64-years-old; the severely obese and people with learning disabilities who are at greater risk of developing serious complications if they catch flu.
A free vaccine — with a 75pc target — is also offered to people aged 65 and above; 68pc of eligible Redbridge residents had the vaccine.
The local picture was reflective of that at a national level, where the uptake for both groups fell below target.
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There are ambitions to expand the programme; the government wants to include those shielding (and members of their household), health and social care workers, and those aged 50 or over.
Public health experts say achieving these new goals — which could amount to more than £30million people — will be a major challenge in light of these latest figures.
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Chief medical officer Chris Whitty has asked health professionals for a “concerted effort” to achieve at least 75pc uptake across all eligible groups.
Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the royal college of GPs, said this year’s flu programme is all the more important given “the very real threat of a second wave”.
Free vaccinations are also being extended to children in the first year of secondary school.
The service is already offered to all primary school children, with 45.2pc of those eligible in Redbridge vaccinated last winter.
Once again this was lower than the minimum target of 65.0pc; the average uptake nationally was 60.4pc.
A department of health and social care spokesman said: “The health secretary has outlined plans for the biggest flu vaccine programme in UK history, and healthcare staff will work to vaccinate more than 30 million people — millions more than received it last year.”