Concern over lower take-up of flu vaccine among pensioners
ONLY half of pensioners in Derbyshire have come forward for their "life-saving" flu jabs, according to new figures.
The elderly, pregnant women and people with long-term health problems are among those being encouraged to get vaccinated.
Health experts say these groups are the most vulnerable to developing complications from the flu virus – putting their lives at risk.
But figures show that just 50% of the county's 136,000 NHS-eligible pensioners have received the vaccination since the county's GPs began their Get The Jab, Get Flu Safe campaign on October 1. This compares with 63% over the same period last year.
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Dr Bruce Laurence, acting director of public health for NHS Derbyshire County and Derbyshire County Council, said: "Flu is a highly contagious infection which anyone can catch.
"It is not just a cold – it can be a really serious illness for some people and it doesn't just affect older people.
"While most people who are normally fit and healthy recover from flu, those in at-risk groups can have serious illnesses. These include pneumonia and bronchitis.
"It can make existing conditions worse and cause death."
Last year, health staff vaccinated 76% of the city's 46,000 pensioners – above the Department of Health's national target of 75% – but said about 12,000 of people over the age of 65 eligible for the jab did not have it on the NHS.
About 45% of Derby's 3,100 pregnant women were also vaccinated, against a national target of 25%, – along with 54% of about 30,00 people under 65 but with long-term health problems, compared to 51% nationally.
Across the county, 30,000 pensioners, 5,000 pregnant women and 35,000 people with existing health problems did not have the jab on the NHS.
This year, about 15% of county GP surgeries had to postpone the start of vaccinations because of delays from drug manufacturer Crucell but this has now been resolved.
To raise awareness about flu jabs, NHS staff will run roadshows, at which they will hand out advice and answer questions.
These will be held at the London Road Community Hospital, Derby, on Monday from 10am to 3pm; the Boots store at Derby's Westfield Centre on Thursday, December 6, from 10am to 3pm; and Belper's Farmers' Market, in the town's Market Place, on Saturday, December 8, from 8.30am to 1pm.
Anyone eligible for the flu jab should contact their GP. For more information, visit www.derbycitypct.nhs.uk or call the NHS non-emergency number 111.