09 November 2018
Supplies of the ‘enhanced’ flu vaccine for people aged 65 and over have arrived in the island. Anyone not yet vaccinated is urged to get protected now that stock is available.
This year, those aged 65 and over are recommended by the UK expert national advisory group on vaccines (known as JCVI) to have an ‘enhanced’ flu vaccine. With only one manufacturer of this particular vaccine, the manufacturer worked to meet the increased demand, but had to stagger deliveries to surgeries and pharmacies. As a result, doctors and pharmacists in the UK and Jersey received 20% of their orders in September, 40% in October, with the remaining 40% delivered in November.
Dr Linda Diggle, Head of Preventive Programmes, said: “I’d like to thank those aged 65 and over for their patience this year in getting their flu vaccine. This year’s supply issue affected Jersey exactly as it did the UK. While we were always confident of getting the supplies promised in good time and of being able to protect people ahead of the winter, the delay has nevertheless been frustrating.
“We know that those people aged 65 and over are usually amongst the first group to get themselves protected. Around 4000 people in this age group have been vaccinated so far in Jersey, but we’re aware many have had to wait. Supplies are now on island. It takes about two weeks for the vaccination to give you the immunity you need, so I’d urge people to contact their surgery or to go to one of the many pharmacies that have vaccine available”.
The enhanced flu vaccine is referred to as an ‘adjuvanted’ vaccine. This means it significantly boosts effectiveness by improving the body’s immune response to the vaccine. This is important because older adults’ immune systems naturally become weaker as they age, so they need a boosted flu vaccine to better protect them.
Dr Diggle added “For those not yet protected, this vaccine is worth the wait. In particular, the older you are, the more you need an adjuvanted flu vaccine to give you optimum protection. The older we get beyond 65, the more vulnerable we become to suffering complications from flu, including secondary bacterial infections, such as pneumonia. There’s also a higher chance of elderly adults needing to go into hospital if they catch flu, and sadly, older adults are more at risk of dying from flu. Please get yourself vaccinated. After having the vaccine, you should expect an achy arm for a day or two but nothing more. Prevention is by far your best protection against the unpredictable flu virus.”
The children’s flu vaccinations in schools were completed today (Friday 9th November).A final catch-up flu vaccination clinic is being held on Monday 19 November, from 3pm to 6pm, in the Out-Patients Department of the hospital for schoolchildren who missed the vaccination in school. Parents who declined the vaccine for their child but have since changed their mind are welcome to come along with their child. There is no need to make an appointment – parents are advised to just turn up with their child.
People aged 16 to 64 with a long term health condition and pregnant women are recommended to have the quadrivalent flu vaccine – this protects against four strains of flu predicted by the World Health Organization as likely to be the flu strains circulating in the northern hemisphere this winter.