Flu jab was 44% effective last winter, PHE report reveals

The flu vaccine given on the NHS over the last winter was 44% effective in all age groups, data shows.

The annual flu report from Public Health England (PHE) showed the jab was 44.3% effective against the types of flu that were circulating.

While more health professionals got the vaccine than the year before (70.3% compared to 68.7% the year before), slightly fewer people aged 65 and over in England got the jab in 2018/19 (72% compared to 72.9%).

Some 48% of children and adults in an at-risk group (such as those with asthma or diabetes) had the jab, lower than the 49.7% recorded the year before.

Fewer pregnant women (45.2%) also opted for the vaccine compared to the 47% the year before.

However, uptake in children increased, with 44.9% of two and three-year-olds having the jab, up from 44% the year before.

In school-age children, 60.8% had the vaccine.

A new, more effective type of vaccine (adjuvanted) was offered to people aged 65 and over, and this jab proved to be 60% effective against flu.

Dr Richard Pebody, head of flu at PHE, said: “We’re pleased that the adjuvanted vaccine, which was offered to older adults for the first time this year in England, provided encouraging protection against the main circulating strains this winter.

“The flu vaccine programme demonstrates the value of vaccination throughout the life course.

“We’re pleased that more parents have been taking up the offer of vaccination for their children – and encourage anyone who is eligible to do so every winter. It’s the best defence we have against this unpredictable virus.”

Public health minister, Seema Kennedy, said: “It’s great to see that most 65 and overs in this country received the flu jab this year and those who did so were at a reduced risk of getting flu and less likely to have to see their GP as a result.

“It’s also really promising to see that this year around three million children were vaccinated – and we’re expanding and improving the vaccine programme so that from next year it will be available to all children in primary school.

“This data continues to prove that vaccines work – and I urge everyone to continue to take advantage of the world leading programme of vaccines we have in this country.”

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