A new policy briefing from the International Longevity Centre-UK (ILC) calls for the UK government to learn the lessons of the COVID-19 vaccination programme ahead of the upcoming flu season.
The briefing points out that inequalities in vaccination uptake remain prevalent, with regional and cultural variation. Uptake of the vaccine has been 27% lower among those who identify as Black Caribbean compared to those identifying as White British. It is unclear what impact Covid may have on attitudes to routine vaccinations, such as flu. Last year, uptake of the flu vaccine surpassed the target set by the World Health Organization of 75% for the first, but it is unclear whether complacency will reverse this trend. A lack of accessible health data also continues to hinder vaccination delivery, with at least 21different electronic patient medical systems in use and as many as 23% of Trusts still using paper records.
The ILC wants to see the NHS employ community champions, such as religious leaders, teachers and celebrities to disseminate targeted immunisation messaging to marginalised groups. It also recommends healthcare workers should encourage individuals to have their flu vaccination during routine appointments. All individuals should be given access to their personal flu vaccination records via the NHS app as well as an easy-to-access web-based portal.
Liam Hanson, Communications and Engagement Officer at ILC says: “Government now has an opportunity, as well as a duty, to learn the lessons of the pandemic and apply them to other vaccine-preventable diseases, most pressingly influenza as we approach flu season.”
Midnight tonight (Thursday, September 16) is the deadline for people working in and/or attending care homes to have their first jab if they are going to meet the November 11 deadline for double vaccination or risk losing their job. UNISON has called for mandatory vaccination to be scrapped or risk facing catastrophic staff shortages in the sector.