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Vaccine to be promoted as flu season starts

Healthcare professionals are being urged to promote the flu vaccination by Public Health England (PHE).

Figures collected indicate that flu is now circulating in the community among both children and adults but that more people are being immunized against it. In the over 65 age group, 70% have been vaccinated compared to 47.1% of those aged under 65 with a health condition and 41.6% of pregnant women.

In addition, 34.8% of all 2 year olds, 37.3% of all 3 year olds and 29.3 % of all 4 year olds have been vaccinated with the nasal spray vaccine as part of the childhood flu immunisation programme.

Following PHE advice, Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies said: “ "Prevention is better than cure, and the increase in flu activity means it is even more important to get your flu jab if you are in an at-risk group.”

“At risk” groups include the elderly, children under five, pregnant women and those with long-term health conditions.

Dr Richard Pebody, head of seasonal flu surveillance at PHE, said: "We are starting to see increases in flu activity in both children and adults, indicating the start of this year's flu season.

"People in 'at risk' groups can get the vaccine for free as they are at much greater risk of becoming seriously unwell if they catch flu, and sadly many end up in hospital.

"Although unpleasant, for most healthy people, flu is a self-limiting illness.

"Every season we remain vigilant and assess the flu situation as more information becomes available from our various surveillance systems, and from the different virus samples we receive from across the UK."