No one likes getting the flu. However the flu virus is a particular risk for older people and those with long-term conditions, particularly in a city as busy as London. That’s why we’ve launched our “It’s Never Too Late!” Campaign, an awareness-raising drive to increase uptake of the flu vaccine across London.
Even though the flu jab is free for those over the age of 65, Greater London holds eighteen of the twenty Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) areas with the lowest flu vaccine uptake. In fact, the World Health Organisation’s target of vaccinating 75% of people aged 65 years and over continues to be woefully unmet by the majority of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), with only 15% (30 out of 195) of CCGs meeting that target in 2018-19. In addition, flu vaccine uptake amongst older Londoners was far lower than the national average of 72% in 2018/19.
Our “It’s Never Too Late!” campaign, is a focused promotion of the flu vaccine across London. As part of the campaign will have created a set of dedicated resources aimed at older Londoners to address barriers to vaccine take up, including leaflets, posters, and a toolkit that explains how the vaccine works. We will be distributing these to older people’s organisations across London to help promote the benefits of the flu vaccine and increase uptake of the flu jab amongst older Londoners. The campaign will place additional focus on targeting the boroughs in north and northwest London, which have the lowest levels of take up in the country, by hosting a series of local promotional events in these areas.
We kicked off the campaign this week by hosting a conference for older people’s organisations across London, both to teach them about the flu vaccine and to provide them with toolkits to spread the word in their boroughs. We were very lucky to be joined by two experts on the flu virus and vaccine, who gave presentations and took part in a Q&A. Dr Catherine Heffernan from Public Health England spoke first and made the hugely important point that although we think of winter as the flu season, flu can still be caught as late as March or even April, which means it really is never too late to get the jab! We then heard from John Oxford a Professor of Virology, who discussed the history of the flu vaccine and explained how mutations in the virus can occur and why they’re so dangerous. The event culminated with a series of round-table discussions about the best ways to encourage flu vaccine take up amongst older Londoners.
Yet it’s not just those aged 65 and over who can get the free flu jab, you are also eligible if you are:
- Living in a residential or nursing home
- A carer of an older or disabled person
- A frontline care worker
- An NHS worker
- Living with a long term health condition
- Living with a weakened immune system
Even though so many Londoners are able to get the flu jab for free from their GP or Pharmacist, uptake across the capital is scarily low. So, if you work with older Londoners in any capacity, make sure to Flu Vaccine Toolkit learn the facts about flu, and share our resources with as many people as you can!
Remember – spread the word, not the flu!