Manchester Withington MP Jeff Smith has urged those in south Manchester who are at risk of getting flu to get their free vaccine jab before winter sets in as it emerged that 82,000 people missed out on protection last year across Manchester.
Flu vaccination rates continue to climb across the country, but remain lower than ideal in many areas.
Jeff’s call comes as the Chief Medical Officer warned last week that flu and complications associated with it cause 8,000 deaths on average a year in England – around 6,000 of which are people with existing heart and lung conditions.
Official figures show that just under 2.9m bed days were lost to flu and pneumonia last year in English hospitals, up almost 280,000 from the previous year – an 11% increase.
In the Manchester area last year:
· 23,402 older people missed out on their jab, and among over-65s with long-term condition which make them more vulnerable to the effects of flu, just 50% were vaccinated.
· Thousands of young children (2-4 year olds) also didn’t get the vaccine, including 602 who were classed as being at greater risk.
· 555 pregnant women with long-term conditions also didn’t get protected.
Jeff said: “Getting the flu can be bad enough for even the fittest of us, but for older people and those with long-term conditions in particular it can cause serious health problems.
“Getting the flu jab is free and easy, and offers the best chance of avoiding the flu that we have.
I’d therefore urge all those eligible to speak to your GP or local pharmacist and get your vaccination booked in before the cold weather sets in.”
NHS England’s National Medical Director for Acute Care, Professor Keith Willett, said: “Hospitals and GPs are preparing intensively for this winter, and we would remind people of the importance of having a flu vaccination.
There are 21 million people eligible this year, but last year eight million people missed out and that is something we can all definitely change.”
More information on eligibility for the flu jab, and other tips on staying well this winter, can be found at www.nhs.uk/staywell