The Taskforce for Lung Health respond to the flu vaccine uptake figures released by the UK Health Security Agency

Responding to the latest flu vaccine uptake figures from the UK Health Security, Dr Alison Cook, Chair of the Taskforce for Lung Health said:

“With higher predicted levels of flu in circulation alongside COVID-19, the current flu vaccine programme is the biggest in UK history. It’s encouraging to see that the uptake of the flu jab has increased amongst over-65s, yet concerning that the rate of other clinical at-risk groups, including people with existing lung conditions, remain behind.

“Flu is a highly infectious disease and can hit people living with lung disease the hardest, often resulting in hospital admissions and in some cases fatality. Uptake in 2020/21 for people with chronic respiratory disease was 57.9%, an increase on figures for previous years which hovered around 50%, yet is still lower than our interim target of 75% We need to see a concerted effort to improve flu vaccine uptake in this priority group, to at least match the levels seen in other groups such as health care staff, where the vaccine is more readily available in the workplace. We strongly recommend anyone with chronic lung disease has the free flu vaccination to protect themselves and everyone they come in contact with from flu.

“It’s also vital that health and social care staff are vaccinated to protect themselves and reduce the risk of passing flu onto their patients. We’ve seen significant progress in uptake from health care workers, with 76.8% of NHS workers getting the jab in 2020-21, but there is still a long way to go, especially within social care at only 60.45%.

“We need to make sure every person who works with patients is supported and encouraged to get their flu vaccine, ensuring we reach a near universal uptake of the flu jab.”