Vulnerable at risk due to government cuts to flu jab publicity – says Letchworth doctor

Garden City Surgery Practice Nurse, Sheena Alimohamed administering a flu vaccination to Jenny Tomli

Garden City Surgery Practice Nurse, Sheena Alimohamed administering a flu vaccination to Jenny Tomlin who is over 65 years of age. - Credit: Archant

A doctor has warned that government cuts to a publicity campaign will leave vulnerable people at risk of flu.

The Department of Health is no longer running its annual national advertising campaign for flu jabs and reminder letters sent to everyone over the age of 65 by the NHS have been stopped this year.

Dr Adrian Wood, a partner at The Garden City Surgery in Letchworth GC, is concerned this will mean many elderly patients will forget to have the vaccination. The flu jab is available free for all patients over the age of 65 and anyone else who falls into one of the at-risk groups, for example, pregnant women, asthmatics who regularly use steroid-based inhalers and those with chronic conditions of the lungs or heart, those with neurological diseases such as a stroke, and those with diabetes.

Dr Wood said: “It is very important that this group of people have their flu injection. However, because they have not received their usual letter from the NHS, Influenza can be a potentially serious or even fatal illness, particularly to those in vulnerable groups such as the elderly. I urge anyone over the age of 65 to contact their local GP surgery to book their flu jab appointment as soon as possible.”

Despite the cutbacks throughout the NHS, Dr Wood said GPs are under pressure to improve vaccine uptake rates, with the onus now on doctors to contact all those over the age of 65 and those who fall into the at-risk group and are eligible for a free injection.”

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It has been confirmed that there are 1,560 people to contact for The Garden City Surgery alone.

Dr Wood added: “It’s a double whammy, losing both the local letters and the national campaign.”

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