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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

NAFDAC bans sale of Dex Luxury bar soap in Nigeria

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control, (NAFDAC) has placed a ban on the sale of Dex Luxury bar soap in Nigeria.

The agency explained that the ban was due to Butyphenyl Methylpropional, BMHCA, content in the product.

This was contained in a post on the Agency’s X handle on Thursday.

According to the post, the European Union, EU, banned the product due to the risk of harming the reproductive system of users, causing harm to the health of the unborn child, and cause skin sensitization.

“Although this product is not on the NAFDAC database, importers, distributors, retailers, and consumers are advised to exercise caution and vigilance within the supply chain to avoid the importation, distribution, sale, and use of the above-mentioned product”, the agency added.

 

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Health

No outbreak of Lassa fever in any local govt- Kogi Govt

Nigeria identifies three drugs for Lassa fever treatment

Kogi State Government has debunked any outbreak of Lassa fever across the 21 local government areas of the State.

Commissioner for Health in the state, Dr. Abdulazeez Adams Adeiza while reacting to a viral video of an alleged lassa fever outbreak, noted that a student who was admitted to the Federal Teaching Hospital Lokoja did not die of lassa fever.

According to the Commissioner, it was reported that the student died of hemorrhagic fever.

The Commissioner explained that the deceased student who was admitted at the Federal Teaching Hospital Lokoja presented complaints of fever and bleeding from the gum.

He added that the patient was being investigated and managed, while samples were taken and sent to Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, (NCDC) Abuja, but before the result was released, he had lost his life.

The Commissioner said the result came out to be negative for lassa fever.

In his words, ”the suspected case has turned out to be negative for lassa fever.

“It is not only lassa fever that can make a patient to present bleeding from the gum. Other reasons could include blood dyscrasias and bleeding disorders”.

He advised members of the public to disregard the report as no case of lassa fever has been reported in the state

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Health

UCH workers directed to stop working by 4pm over continuous blackout

The Joint Action Committee (JAC) which is the umbrella body of unions at the University College Hospital (UCH) in Ibadan, Oyo state, has directed all employees of the health institution to commence work from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily from Tuesday, April 2. 

The directive came after the tertiary health institution was disconnected by the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, (IBEDC) over N495 million debt accrued in over six years.

Addressing newsmen, chairman of JAC, Oludayo Olabampe stated that it is no longer safe to continue to attend to patients under the circumstances. He also said that workers would embark on strike if power is not restored.

He said;

“Workers would now work from 8 am to 4 pm only because it is dangerous and risky to attend to patients in that situation. We held a meeting with the management this morning but the issue is that there is no electricity. So, from today, Tuesday, April 2, we will work until 4 p.m. We are not attending to any patient after 4 p.m.

“This means that we won’t admit patients because the nurses that will take care of them will not be available after 4 p.m. and you don’t expect patients to be on their own from 4 p.m. till 8 a.m. the following day.

“If patients need blood tests, the lab will not work, if they need radiography, the radiographers will not work, and the dieticians in charge of their food too will not work after 4 p.m. We also gave management another 14-day ultimatum which started counting from March 27, and if after 14 days power is not restored, we will embark on warning strike.”

Commenting on the development, the chief medical director of UCH, Jesse Otegbayo, alleged that IBEDC was billing the hospital as an industry. He stated that the union did not formally notify management before making such a decision.

He said;

“I have not heard about that, if they are going to do that, they should write to management officially, and then the management will respond. There are rules that govern government service, you can’t just decide what hours you work and expect to be paid full-time.

“If they go ahead to do that without informing management officially, management has a way of applying the rules to pay them for the number of hours which they worked. The proper thing is for them to put it in writing because they didn’t write officially to the management before taking the decision.”

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