Flu vaccination data are in the following table.
People aged 65 and over People in clinical at-risk groups Health care workers Poultry workers 2007-08 74 45 13.4 14.2 2006-07 74 42 14 13.4 2005-06 75 48 19.4 1— 2004-05 71 40 15.4 1— 2003-04 71 1— 14.8 1— 1 Those years when data was not collected or policy was not in place.
People aged 65 and over
People in clinical at-risk groups
Health care workers
1 Those years when data was not collected or policy was not in place.
England has one of the best uptake rates of the flu jab in Europe for those aged 65 and over.
This year the Department has reminded health professionals of the importance of protecting younger patients in other risk groups and we will look carefully at the results when final vaccine uptake data for 2008-09 is available.
In 2008 research was carried out with adults in at-risk groups. It identified that there are a number of challenges to improving vaccine uptake in younger at-risk groups and that because the use of the term ‘flu’ and ‘cold’ had become almost interchangeable, flu was not regarded as a serious concern.
The Department is planning to introduce a new flu vaccination advertising campaign for the 2009-10 flu season. One of the aims of the new advertising approach is to improve targeting of the message to people aged under 65 with long-term conditions, while maintaining uptake rates among those aged 65 and over. These research findings are being fed into the development of the new campaign.
Uptake among health care workers is low in most developed countries and this is a concern that is not specific to the UK. To address low uptake in health care workers, the Department held a flu conference in June 2008 for flu leads working in PCTs and also in occupational health. The conference focused on sharing ideas for improving vaccine uptake among health professionals.
We also launched a new flu vaccine leaflet for health care workers and are currently working on a communications strategy that will provide support to occupational health departments in delivering all occupational health vaccinations, because immunising health care workers with the flu vaccine is the responsibility of the employer.
The poultry workers programme has a slightly different focus to the other seasonal flu programmes. Its purpose is to reduce the risk of a poultry worker being exposed to an avian flu virus at the same time as they were infected with seasonal flu virus. It is theoretically possible that the two viruses could mix to produce a new strain of flu virus which could possibly lead to a pandemic. This programme is primarily aimed at reducing the risk of a pandemic virus emerging in this country.