Over 80% of those aged 65 and over in England have received the flu vaccine so far this year, the highest uptake ever achieved, the Department of Health and Social Care has announced.
Additionally, uptake in 2 and 3 year old children is also the highest ever recorded, at 54.0% and 56.5% respectively. Flu vaccine uptake rates are higher than the same time last season for all other eligible groups. This includes an uptake rate of 51.5% in clinical at-risk groups (aged under 65 years), which is the highest achieved in the last seven seasons.
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‘The flu vaccine saves lives. It is therefore very encouraging to see record-high uptake rates this season, especially among the groups most vulnerable to flu, who are also most at-risk from COVID-19,’ said Dr Vanessa Saliba, Head of Flu at PHE.
‘There is still time to get vaccinated against flu and we urge anyone who is eligible to take up the offer to help protect yourself, your family and the NHS.’
On 1 December 2020, all 50 to 64 year olds became eligible for the flu vaccine and 26.1% of those in this age group (but not in a clinical risk group) have taken up the offer so far. The NHS in England has achieved some of the highest flu vaccine uptake rates in Europe for healthcare workers, with an uptake of 74.3% by the end of the season in 2019 to 2020. By the end of November 2020, 70.5% of frontline healthcare workers had already been vaccinated, compared to 61.5% at the same period last year. This means more than 120,000 additional healthcare workers had been vaccinated than the same time last year.
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‘It is fantastic to see that despite the unique challenges of this winter, more over 65s than ever before have had their flu vaccination and that there is such high uptake across the eligible groups,’ said Public Health Minister, Jo Churchill.
‘Every year health and care staff do an incredible job rolling out the flu vaccine, and this year the COVID-19 vaccine too, to protect us all.’