HEALTH MINISTER SETS EXAMPLE WITH SEASONAL FLU VACCINE

Dr Dan Poulter, Member of Parliament for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich and Health Minister, joined around 80 MPs yesterday when he received a flu vaccine in the House of Commons, as part of an attempt to encourage residents in Suffolk to get this season’s flu vaccine, in line with Government recommendations.

Last year, 74% of people aged over 65 were vaccinated against flu in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, which corresponds with the national average for this age group.

Seasonal flu (influenza) is a highly infectious illness and it is important for those most at risk to be vaccinated against it. Each year, flu can put a considerable burden on NHS resources, with numerous GP consultations and hospitalisations. In England and Wales, influenza accounts for over 400,000 general practitioner consultations annually. It is estimated that in excess of 6 million working days are lost in the UK due to seasonal influenza every year. The consequences of influenza can also be fatal.

The Department of Health (DH) recommends free flu vaccinations for those aged 65 or over; and for people with certain chronic conditions such as respiratory disease (including asthma); heart, renal, liver or neurological disease; diabetes; low immune systems; as well as people living in long-stay facilities such as nursing and residential homes, and carers of elderly or disabled people. Healthcare professionals are also encouraged to have the vaccination, as well as pregnant women.

Speaking after having the vaccine, Dr Poulter said, ‘The seasonal flu vaccination is important to help protect those people who are more susceptible to serious complications and illness from flu, such as those who are over 65.’

‘I would encourage all those in Suffolk who are over the age of 65 or are in one of the ‘at risk’ groups to visit their surgeries and get vaccinated this winter.’

For more information please contact jamesc.styles@parliament.uk or call 0207 219 7038.