An enhanced flu jab for elderly people will save hundreds of lives this winter, according to Public Health England.
The effectiveness of flu jabs notoriously declines as people get older and was effective in just one in 10 over-65s last winter.
This new enhanced vaccine that will be given this year contains extra ingredients designed to help aged immune systems develop a stronger defence against flu.
Public Health England estimates the vaccine will lead to:
30,000 fewer GP appointments
2,000 fewer people needing hospital care
700 fewer deaths from flu
Speaking to the BBC, Professor Paul Cosford, from Public Health England, said:
“This looks like it is going to be a significant improvement and quite a step in our battle against flu each winter.”
The vaccine will also be offered to the over-65s in Wales and Northern Ireland as well as the over-75s in Scotland.
In total, 24 million people in England will be offered the flu vaccine – 3 million more than last winter.
There is a cause for concern that only one in three NHS staff do not get vaccinated.
Professor Jane Cummings, Chief Nurse for England, said up to half of flu cases had no symptoms so she expected staff to be vaccinated.
She said: “Faced with the worst flu season in a decade, NHS staff last winter did a remarkable job providing care for patients.
“This year, the public will be better protected from flu than ever before, with at-risk groups being offered the most effective vaccine available and every member of NHS staff expected to get their jab.”
Gallagher, J – BBC News. (2018). Enhanced flu jab to save ‘hundreds of lives’. Accessible: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-45482197. Last Accessed: 13 September 2018.