News Wednesday January 4, 2012

Low turnout of pregnant women for flu vaccine

The Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health has expressed concern that the turnout for the flu vaccine among at risk groups is low.

The figures, released yesterday, reveal that just 14% of pregnant women have received the flu vaccine so far this year. The Department of Health recommends that all pregnant women, at any stage in the pregnancy, should receive the vaccine. The figures also showed that 68% of people under the age of 65 and in classified risk groups had not yet received the vaccine. An individual is classed as being at risk if they have a heart problem or other chest complaint; kidney or liver disease; diabetes; a neurological condition; low immunity; have had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack; or a problem with their spleen.

Over half of those over the age of 65, who the Department of Health recommends should get the vaccine, have done so. The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, says that she hopes to see this figure rise to 75%. In a statement, she reminds people that may be concerned that “the flu jab does not give you flu. The vaccine does not include the live virus.” She also discussed the importance of at risk individuals receiving the flu vaccine, as “[t]hey are on average 11 times more likely to die from flu than a healthy person is.”

The flu vaccine is free on the NHS for anyone in a risk group. Such individuals should contact their GP in order to make an appointment.

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