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Record uptake for flu vaccine

GPs achieved the largest ever increase in uptake of influenza vaccine this winter, despite getting off to a shaky start, new Government figures show.

Uptake in the over-65s was 75 per cent, a six-point rise on last year, and uptake among high-risk patients under the age of 65 was 48 per cent, an increase of six points on previous figures.

The dramatic rise is a huge turnaround from initial reports of poor uptake at the end of

October with practices having to suspend the campaign due to late delivery of vaccine supplies.

The Department of Health attributed the increase to a marketing campaign and media scares over avian flu.

Dr George Rae, secretary of Newcastle and North Tyneside LMC, said: 'It's a combination of diligent work from practices and the consistent media coverage of bird flu that caused more at-risk patients to come in.'

Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMCs, said the increased uptake was '100 per cent' down to GPs.

'The practices were well-

organised and have lots of experience administering the vaccine. Many targeted at-risk patients more heavily than be- fore,' he said.

But Dr Watson warned that practices faced difficulties deciding how much vaccine to order for this winter after suffering supply shortages during the campaign.

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