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New flu and Covid jab marketing campaign launched as uptake falters in some groups

New flu and Covid jab marketing campaign launched as uptake falters in some groups

The Government has launched a new marketing campaign urging eligible people to come forward for their flu and Covid vaccines, amid a drop in uptake among some groups.

More than 10 million people in England have so far received their Covid autumn booster, NHS England added, but the new campaign will urge ‘millions’ more eligible people to come forward.

As part of the campaign, adverts ‘stressing the importance of people getting both vaccines to increase their protection this winter’ will air across television, radio, social and digital media.

The campaign will also feature ‘targeted communications’ for those with long-term health conditions, pregnant women and ethnic minority communities with a ‘particular focus on those with low vaccine confidence’.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said also aims to encourage ‘millions of eligible people’ to take up the flu jab, which so far has been received by 49.5% of those aged 65 and over.

Reminders will also be sent out to almost a million people aged 65 and over or who are at risk and yet to receive their jab, also starting today.

Flu vaccination is ‘currently behind last season’ for pre-schoolers, with uptake of 12.1% in two-year-olds and 12.8% in three-year-olds, pregnant women (12.4%) and under-65s in a clinical risk group (18.2%), UKHSA added.

And it comes as ‘cases of flu have climbed quickly in the past week, indicating that the season has started earlier than normal’ – with rates of hospitalisations and ICU admissions rising fast, especially in under-fives.

At the same, UKHSA pointed to the latest Covid data showing ‘continued high rates of cases and hospitalisations in recent weeks.

UKHSA director of immunisations Dr Mary Ramsay said: ‘The latest data follows the pattern we predicted and a difficult winter is expected.’

GP and professor of general practice at Imperial College London Professor Azeem Majeed told Pulse: ‘In my practice area, we are encountering a lot of “vaccine apathy” with some eligible people feeling they have had enough Covid-19 vaccines, so the uptake has been slower than we hoped.

‘The early national data from the Covid-19 vaccine programme show that uptake is gradually increasing – but the people coming forwards are those keenest on vaccination and so we won’t know how it will do in more vaccine hesitant groups until later in the year.’

He added: ‘My view is that it’s likely that a substantial proportion of eligible people in the younger age groups won’t come forwards for their Covid-19 boosters, leaving many people at risk of serious outcomes if they get infected this winter.

‘It’s important for the Government, NHS England, public health bodies and health professionals to reinforce the benefits of Covid-19 vaccination in the population.’

Last month, UKHSA public health experts warned that this year’s flu season will likely be severe and strike early – and that the UK could face a ‘twindemic’ of Covid and flu infections this winter.

NHS director for vaccinations and screening Steve Russell said that while the NHS autumn booster programme ‘has vaccinated twice as many people as it had at this stage last year’, evidence of increasing levels of both Covid and flu infections signal ‘a very challenging winter’ ahead.

And deputy chief medical officer for England Dr Thomas Waite added that Covid restrictions in place last year mean ‘levels of immunity’ to flu in the population ‘are likely quite low’.

All over-50s have been eligible to book in for their autumn Covid booster and flu vaccination from earlier this month, as well as health and care workers and those in at-risk groups.


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