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shingles vaccinationJune 1 2016

Overall uptake of the seasonal flu vaccine was down in all target cohorts for the 2015-16 season, Public Health England has announced.

Uptake levels between September 1 2015 and January 31 2016 in GP patient groups in England were:

In addition, 50.6% of healthcare workers were vaccinated.

The vaccination level for those aged under 65 years in a clinical at-risk group was 45.1 % overall, ranging from 18.6 % in the 6 months to under 2 years age category to 48.1 % in the 2 -4 years age category,” said PHE. Uptake in clinical at-risk groups ranged from 30.0 % in patients with morbid obesity (BMI≥40) to 65.5% in patients with diabetes. The highest uptake remained in patients with diabetes aged 16 to under 65 years at 65.7%.

The information is based on data from 7,613 out of 7,630 general practices in England (99.8%), covering all 13 Local NHS Regions. PHE has described the season as having moderate levels of influenza activity, with the A(H1N1)pdm09 strain of virus predominating. However it peaked late, at week 11 of 2016 (mid-March) and influenza B peaked after that.

“Peak admissions to hospital and ICU were higher than seen in the previous few seasons, but lower than the last notable A(H1N1)pdm09 season in 2010-11. Levels of excess all-cause mortality were significantly lower than last season, but some excess mortality was seen in younger adults,” said the report.

PHE has also published details of the 2016-17 seasonal flu vaccination programme and winter flu plan. In 2016-17, the following individuals will be advised to receive flu vaccination:

  • all children aged two to seven (but not eight years or older) on 31 August 20161
  • all primary school-aged children in former primary school pilot areas
  • those aged six months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups
  • pregnant women
  • those aged 65 years and over
  • those in long-stay residential care homes
  • carers

GPs will be responsible for vaccinating two, three and four year olds, but not those who are five years or older on 31 August 2016. “The only change to eligibility for flu vaccination this year is the extra offer of live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) to children of appropriate age for school year 3,” said PHE.

“It is disappointing that vaccination rates dropped for 2-4 year olds in 2015-16, despite the hard work of teams. Reaching these pre-school cohorts continues to be extremely important, not only for their own protection and to prevent the spread of flu, but also to introduce flu vaccination as part of a routine healthcare for children every autumn. Uptake was considerably higher in the school based programmes for school age children, providing a firm foundation for future growth.”

A range of resources have also been published for the 2016-17 season, including advice for head teachers, an invitation letter template for school-aged children, a consent form template, and promotional material about vaccination children.

Links:

PHE Health protection Report

PHE ‘Influenza immunisation programme for England GP patient groups Data collection survey Season 2015 to 2016’.

PHE Annual Flu Programme collection

Annual Flu Letter for Health professionals

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