Thousands of Derry patients shunned flu jab last year say PHA

Tue, 11/10/2011 - 14:44 -- Editor

Only 76 per cent of Derry people deemed at risk from influenza took the flu jab last year.

Despite the total number of deaths from flu sitting at 31 for the north of Ireland, thousands of ‘at risk’ patients shunned the jab.

Figures released by the Public Health Agency say that although 38,497 people over the age of 65 who were offered the vaccine, just 29,372 took it.

For under 65 ‘at risk’ groups there were 31,657 people who were offered the jab and some 27,518 actually took it.

Both these rates were above the Northern Ireland average. The total number of deaths in those with confirmed influenza infection reported this season was 31 (30 influenza A (H1N1) 2009 and 1 influenza B). Of these 31 deaths, 29 had an underlying health problem and two did not.  The median age of the 30 influenza A (H1N1) 2009 cases was 53 years, compared with 28 years during the pandemic when the same strain was circulating’

A new advertising campaign aimed at encouraging people to get the vaccine, not the flu was rolled out on October 3 and will run until December. Featuring a mass multi-media campaign that includes TV, radio, press and online advertising, it emphasises the seriousness of flu and the illnesses it can cause.

The Public Health Agency recommends that people in at risk groups should receive the flu vaccine

People in at risk groups include pregnant women in all stages/any trimester of pregnancy; anyone aged over 65 years, even if they feel fit and healthy at the moment; children and adults who have any of the following medical conditions:

          o A chronic chest condition such as asthma

          o A chronic heart condition

          o Chronic liver disease

          o Chronic kidney disease

          o Diabetes

          o Lowered immunity due to disease or treatment such as steroids or cancer therapy

          o A chronic neurological condition such as stroke, multiple sclerosis or a condition that affects your nervous system, such as cerebral palsy, or hereditary and degenerative diseases of the central nervous system or muscles

          o Any other serious medical condition - check with your doctor if you are unsure

          o Children who have previously been admitted to hospital with a chest infection

          o Children attending schools for children with severe learning difficulties

          o Anyone living in a residential or nursing home

          o Main carers for elderly or disabled people (you should seek advice from your GP surgery as to whether you should be vaccinated so you can continue to look after the person you care for. You should also ensure that they are vaccinated, if recommended).

Even if someone in these groups had the flu vaccine last year, they should still have the seasonal flu vaccine this year, even if they feel fit and healthy now, to make sure they are fully protected against all three common types of flu.

Leaflets and posters with the most up-to-date information on seasonal flu vaccination are also available through GPs, midwives and the dedicated flu website: www.fluawareni.info.