By Lilian Anekwe
The Department of Health has admitted that patients are shunning the seasonal flu vaccine because of fears about the swine flu component of the seasonal flu jab.
Uptake of the seasonal flu vaccine has fallen this year, with DH figures for the end of October showing 48% of over-65s have so far accepted the jab, compared with 54% at the same point last year. 26% of under-65s in at risk groups have had the jab so far, compared with 31% last year.
A statement from the DH said: ‘The "blip" in uptake could be explained by a period of milder than usual weather for this time of year or it could be due to people being unnecessarily concerned about the jab containing swine flu vaccine.'
Ministers are seeking to assure the public that this year's seasonal flu vaccine, which does contain the H1N1 flu virus, is safe, and urging eligible patients to see their GP to get vaccinated.
Professor David Salisbury, the DH director of immunisation, said: ‘This year's vaccine is the ordinary seasonal flu jab and protects against the dominant strains - this year it protects against three types of flu, including the type known as swine flu.'
‘It is vital we don't underestimate the effects of this virus. It is not the same as getting a cold and it can seriously affect your health. My advice is to visit your local GP surgery and get the vaccination as soon as possible.'Flu vaccine uptake rates have fallen since last year Flu vaccine uptake rates have fallen since last year