A new influenza vaccine, which contains an adjuvant that boosts its effectiveness, will be available to over-65s in the UK for the first time this year.
This follows Public Health England’s (PHE) report that the previous vaccine was ‘not significantly effective’ for the over-65 age group.
The new vaccine could cut the number of GP consultations by 30,000 and also reduce hospitalisations from flu this year, PHE has predicted.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended last November that the new vaccine should be used in the 2018/19 flu season after evidence showed that it was more effective in older patients than the non-adjuvanted vaccine.
The nasal spray vaccination will also be extended to children in reception class and school years 1-5 this year, which PHE says will help protect vulnerable adults against catching flu.
Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies said: ‘Getting the flu vaccine is the single best way to protect yourself against this potentially fatal illness, and this year the NHS is offering it to 24 million people across the country.
‘In addition to this – a newly available vaccine that is more effective will be offered to over-65s. This could prevent hundreds of deaths and save thousands of GP and hospital hours – I strongly encourage everyone in vulnerable groups to get the life-saving vaccine as we head into winter.’
The new vaccine will be available in England from October.