Phil was invited alongside fellow parliamentarians to attend Westminster Flu Day, a flu vaccine clinic held in the House of Commons, to encourage their constituents to get this season’s flu vaccine in line with Government recommendations.
Parliamentarians who would not be eligible for a free seasonal flu vaccine on the NHS made a £10 donation to the Carers Trust. £10 is equivalent to the cost of a private vaccination.
Around 51% of at-risk people and 27% of people over the age of 65 in Durham were not vaccinated against flu last year, even though they were eligible for a free flu vaccine on the NHS. This compares to around 50% nationally of at-risk patients and 27% of people over the age of 65.1
Phil Wilson MP said “Seasonal flu is a highly infectious illness that can lead to serious complications or even death. I would urge everyone who is eligible to receive a free flu vaccine on the NHS to go and get vaccinated.”
Jane Ellison MP, Public Health Minister added: “This is a great opportunity for MPs and Peers to find out who in their communities is eligible for the vaccination and encourage greater take up. MPs can play a really helpful role in raising awareness in their constituencies”.
Each year, flu can put a considerable burden on NHS resources, with numerous GP consultations and hospitalisations. The timing, extent and severity of influenza seasons is unpredictable and intermittent epidemics can cause significant illness and mortality.2
The Department of Health (DH) recommends free flu vaccinations in England for those aged 65 or over; and for people with certain chronic conditions such as chronic respiratory, heart, liver, neurological and kidney disease; diabetes; weakened immune systems; splenic dysfunction; as well as people living in long-stay facilities such as nursing and residential homes; carers of elderly or disabled people; pregnant women; children aged two, three and four; household contacts of immunocompromised individuals; healthcare professionals are also encouraged to have the vaccination.3
Almost 50% of people with a serious medical condition, 30% of people over the age of 65, 60% of preschool children, 45% of healthcare workers, 55% of carers known to GPs and 55% of pregnant women did not have a flu vaccine last year nationally, despite the fact that the consequences of not having a flu vaccine for these groups of people can be serious.4
Westminster Flu Day is an established event in the Parliamentary calendar. It is sponsored by the ABPI Vaccine Group in partnership with the Royal College of GPs and Carers Trust and with the support of the Department of Health and Public Health England.