UK urges doctors to hit flu vaccine targets

Gary Finnegan

Gary Finnegan

December 14th, 2011

Gary Finnegan

‘The head of the UK’s immunisation service has written to health professionals asking them to do more to encourage older people and pregnant women to have the seasonal flu vaccine.’

David-SalisburyProf David Salisbury, Director of Immunisation, National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, said good progress had been made in vaccinating healthcare workers against seasonal influenza but he warned that the target of 60% uptake in the clinical risk groups may not be met.

“I am also concerned that we will not achieve adequate uptake amongst pregnant women. We do not know how serious flu will be this winter. However, we do know that improving flu vaccine uptake will ensure that more people that are vulnerable will be protected,” he wrote.

Prof Salisbury said GPs should actively invite patients to come forward for vaccination through phone calls or via personal letters. He said local advertising or working with local media could also help to communicate the message.

“Pharmacists dispensing prescriptions for people over 65 in the at-risk groups and for pregnant women should take the opportunity to encourage them to get vaccinated,” the letters says, asking that this campaign continue until January.

Read: Are younger doctors complacent about vaccination?

Value of vaccines

Prof Salisbury is a leading figure in the immunisation and health promotion field and spoke about the value of vaccines at the ECDC’s annual Eurovaccine conference earlier this month.

He said vaccination has obvious health benefits but can also add to a country’s wealth if vaccine schedules are devised based on rational evidence.

Speaking at the same event, Dr Paolo Bonanni of the University of Florence, Italy, suggested that vaccines be evaluated using a unique set of criteria. “It’s time to use different thresholds to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of preventative interventions compared to therapeutics interventions,” he told the meeting in Stockholm.