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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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Kwara approves 100% consolidated health salary structure for nurses

The Kwara State government has approved and implemented a 100% Consolidated Health Salary Structure, (CONHESS) for nurses in the state.

Also, the state government has recruited about 63 nurses to fill the vacuum created by the brain drain in the country to improve the quality and standard of nursing care in line with the global best practices.

The Chairman and Secretary of the Kwara State Council of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, Aminu Shehu and Markus Luka respectively, disclosed this in a statement in Ilorin made available to journalists.

The association appreciated the Executive Secretary of the state Hospital Management Bureau for playing a vital role in the struggle towards ensuring that its demands were met by the government.

The body also commended Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq for the approval and implementation of the 100% CONHESS and the recruitment of more nurses to boost healthcare delivery in the state.


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More than 400 consultant anesthetists left Nigeria in 2yrs – Society

More than 400 consultant anesthetists left the shores of Nigeria for greener pastures in the last two years, President of the Nigerian Society of Anesthetists, Dr Olubusola Alagbe-Briggs said in Gombe on Wednesday.

Alagbe-Briggs told newsmen on the side-line of the society’s 31st annual scientific conference that the immigrant anesthetists left Nigeria in search of better practice environment.

She said anesthetists were the most sought-after specialists in foreign lands because of the peculiarity of their services.

“There is a global shortage of anesthetists because of the nature of the job which is intensive, acute and focused.

“We had about 1,200 members in the past, but today we have only 800 members.

“Those countries that are short of anesthetists are pulling those here in Nigeria to their countries.

“Nigerian professionals are the best. They are highly sought-after by other countries.

“Medical practitioners and other professionals will continue to emigrate until their welfare and available equipment are improved upon,’’ she said.

Alagbe-Briggs stressed that availability appropriate equipment and improved welfare were essential to improve medical practice and services.

She said the conference itself sought to ensure continuous enhancement of the knowledge of the society’s members to help to improve their services.

“We are looking at how we can help to improve on cancer care; we are involved in the operational stage, pain relief, emergency care and intensive care.

“We are in Gombe to brainstorm on how to improve our specialty in line with the theme of the conference, learn from one another and share research outcomes,’’ Alagbe-Briggs said.

The conference has: “Anesthesia and the pre-operative care of patients with cancers’’ as its theme.

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WHO Demands Fresh Data from China amid Outbreak of Pneumonia in Children

The World Health Organization (WHO) is requesting more data from China amid an outbreak of pneumonia in children.

Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO epidemiologist, said the agency was ‘following up with China’ as hospitals across the country continue to be overwhelmed.

Face masks and social distancing are again being recommended in the country.

The country is said to be grappling with a spike in pneumonia, dubbed ‘white lung syndrome’ because of the way lung damage shows up on scans, among children that has been attributed to a rebound in respiratory illnesses rather than an entirely new virus.



China had one of the most brutal and longest lockdowns of any country in the world which the WHO says robbed children of vital immunity against seasonal illnesses. 

Dr Van Kerkhove told the conference today: ‘Yes, we are seeing an increase in respiratory infections around the world.

‘We’re in autumn and entering winter months, so we are expecting to see rises in respiratory infections regardless.

We are following up with China. They are seeing an increase due a number of different infections

We are following up with our clinical network and following up with clinicians in China.

‘In terms of acute respiratory infections, we are looking at the burden on healthcare systems and looking at the healthcare capacities of systems.’

It comes after Chinese Health Ministry spokesman Mi Feng urged people in the country to again consider wearing face masks and distancing.

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, he said: ‘Efforts should be made to increase the opening of relevant clinics and treatment areas, extend service hours and increase the supply of medicines.

‘It is necessary to do a good job in epidemic prevention and control in key crowded places.

‘[This includes] in schools, childcare institutions and nursing homes, and to reduce the flow of people and visits.’

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