Health Experts Urge Public Not to be Deterred from the Flu Jab Despite Last Year’s Failure
Health experts are urging people who qualify for the free flu jab to take up the offer this year, despite the failure of last year’s vaccine. The flu is a constantly changing target, making it difficult to create effective vaccines, but the Department of Health is eager to assure the public that the vaccine is still worth having.
Last winter, mutations in the anticipated strains of the flu virus left the flu jab largely ineffective. It offered hardly any cover against the main strain of flu encountered in the UK, working for only 3% of people who had the jab before being exposed to the virus.
However, the vaccine is usually 50% effective. Experts say that people should not be deterred by last year’s problems because the jab is still the best step they can take to reduce their chances of getting the flu.
Those eligible to receive a free flu jab include over-65s, pregnant women, people with certain medical conditions, carers who take care of an elderly or disabled person, and some healthcare workers. Children aged 2-4 and primary school children in years one and two are also eligible for the vaccine, administered via nasal spray rather than injection.
The NHS says that the best time to have the vaccine is in the autumn, between September and early November, as this will give you some protection for the winter months – the time when flu is most common.
Public health minister Jane Ellison says: “It’s still the best way to protect you and your children – children can pass it on to relatives so vaccinating children can help to protect the elderly. Occasionally you will get a drift in strains, but generally there is a good match.”