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NHS aims to give 35m flu jabs amid warnings of up to 60,000 deaths

flu jabs

NHS aims to give 35m flu jabs amid warnings of up to 60,000 deaths

The NHS is to embark on the most ambitious programme of flu jabs in its history amid warnings of up to 60,000 deaths.

The health service aims to immunise a record 35 million people – more than half the UK’s population – against influenza as the country faces its first winter with Covid and flu circulating at the same time.

Experts fear the coming flu season could be particularly deadly because the population will have lost much of its immunity to the virus, which dropped to extremely low levels under Covid restrictions.

With people mixing far more freely than last winter, scientists fear a wave of influenza will coincide with seasonal rises in Covid and other infections such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), creating a “triple whammy” for the NHS.

Modelling from the Academy of Medical Sciences has warned of 15,000 to 60,000 deaths from influenza this winter, making the season more than twice as deadly as an average year.

Health officials said that for the first time, newly trained vaccinators will be allowed to administer the flu shot so that more people than ever before can receive the jab before any winter surge. The training will follow guidance drawn up by the UK Health Security Agency, formerly Public Health England.

A campaign launched on Friday by the Department of Health, the Royal College of GPs, the Royal College of Midwives and other professional bodies urges those eligible to book their free flu jab as soon as possible and take up the Covid booster when invited.

Free flu shots are available for about 30 million frontline health and social care workers, pregnant women, people aged 50 and over, those at clinical risk, and children up to school year 11. In many cases the same people will qualify for Covid boosters, which are given no sooner than six months after the second dose of Covid vaccine. Where possible, vaccination sites will offer both shots at the same appointment.

To date, 1.7 million people in England have received Covid boosters. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has recommended boosters for all over-50s, clinically vulnerable people and frontline health and social care workers. The rollout of Covid vaccines in the UK has saved an estimated 130,000 lives and prevented up to 24.3m infections, according to the UK Health Security Agency.

“Not many people got flu last year because of Covid-19 restrictions, so there isn’t as much natural immunity in our communities as usual. We will see flu circulate this winter; it might be higher than usual and that makes it a significant public health concern,” said Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer.

“Covid-19 will still be circulating and with more people mixing indoors, sadly some increases are possible. For the first time we will have Covid-19 and flu co-circulating. We need to take this seriously and defend ourselves and the NHS by getting the annual flu jab and the Covid-19 booster when called.”

The call for people to take up the vaccinations came as an Opinium survey commissioned by the Cabinet Office revealed that more than a quarter of people (26%) did not know that influenza could be fatal, while nearly a third (32%) were unaware that flu and Covid could circulate at the same time. An average flu season kills about 11,000 people in England.

More than a third (37%) of pregnant women – a group eligible for free flu shots – did not realise they could catch influenza if they had been vaccinated for Covid. Flu jabs can be booked at GP practices or local pharmacies, and pregnant women can request a jab at the local maternity service.

“We are facing a challenging winter but we can all help ourselves and those around us by taking up the Covid-19 booster and flu vaccine if eligible,” said Dr Jenny Harries, the chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency. “Getting vaccinated against both viruses will not only help to protect us and our loved ones but will also help protect the NHS from potential strain this winter.”

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Health

AIDS Agency Chief Says 1 Out Of 100 Persons Positive In Kaduna

The Executive Secretary of Kaduna State Aids Control Agency (KADSACA), Dr Isa Baka has said a survey had revealed that one out of 100 people is positive to the AIDS disease in the state.

Baka disclosed this speaking shortly after a walk in commemoration of the World AIDS Day, on Thursday in Kaduna.

The theme of the year’s’ World AIDS Day is “Equalise to End AIDS: Equal Access to Treatment and Prevention Services’’.

He said the present statistics was a remarkable development against previous survey which gave 11 of every 100 people in the state.

Baka added that the AIDS prevalence in Kaduna, which is at 1.1, being a survey carried out by the state government itself, was later done at the national level, where that of Kaduna was confirmed as very accurate.

“At the national level, the prevalence of the virus (AIDS) was at 1.4 (four people out of 100 test positive), while that of Kaduna is confirmed to be 1.1, was in determination of the state government and KADSACA’s efforts to ensure minimal prevalence of the virus,” he said.

He said as part of efforts to continue reducing the prevalence of AIDS in the state, government initiated programmes across the 23 LGAs.

He said one of the UNICEF anchored programmes, which is the ‘Adolescent and Youths Living With HIV and AIDS’ programme, was present and effective in at least, 18 LGAs and 24 sites in the state.

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Health

Malawi Commences Large Scale Malaria Vaccination- First In The World

Malawi has commenced large-scale vaccination of children against malaria.

This is the first large-scale malaria vaccination campaign since the World Health Organisation (WHO) endorsed the widespread use of the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine in October 2021.

The endorsement followed a two-year vaccination programme, which involved more than 800,000 children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.

Recommended for children from five months of age to around 18 months, the vaccine  has an efficacy of 39 percent.

The first phase of the vaccination in Malawi is expected to cover 11 of the country’s 28 districts.

In a tweet on Tuesday, the WHO in Malawi said the expansion of access to the malaria vaccine will enable more children at risk of malaria to benefit from an additional prevention tool.

“Malawi has expanded access to the first malaria vaccine! The expansion of the RTS,S Malaria vaccine, into the 11 districts that participated in the malaria vaccine implementation program (MVIP) has been launched today. The vaccine offers a glimmer hope for Malawi,” WHO wrote.

Michael Kayange, Malawi’s national malaria control programme manager, told the BBC’s Focus on Africa that although the vaccine has low efficacy, “in malaria control, there is no single intervention that does it all”.

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Nigeria Yet To Attain 70% Covid-19 Vaccination Coverage- NPHCDA

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has disclosed that Nigeria is yet to achieve 70 percent coverage for COVID-19 vaccination.

Faisal Shuaib, executive director of NPHCDA, said on Tuesday that as of November 25, a total of 56,790,371 eligible persons targeted for COVID-19 vaccination are fully vaccinated while 12,492,646 are partially vaccinated in 36 states and the FCT.

“We are 21.6 million eligible persons away from reaching its target of fully vaccinating 70 percent of its eligible population by December 2022,” he said.

“But 62 percent of the country’s eligible population is at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19.

“The country has fully vaccinated half of the total population eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.

“We have also fully vaccinated an additional over 25 percent of its eligible population, in the last 110 days of SCALES 3.0 implementation.”

The executive director said 13.2 percent of fully vaccinated persons in the country have received the COVID-19 booster dose for additional protection against the virus.

He commended the COVID-19 strategy group for achieving 50 percent vaccination coverage in the country and promised that the momentum would be sustained.

Shuaib said he has also directed the team to intensify efforts toward the attainment of herd immunity.

“Until this is achieved, the strategy group will continue to develop strategies that will help the country achieve health security,” he said.

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