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Pressing Call for Flu Vaccinations Following Last Winter’s Unprecedented Death Toll Exceeding Covid-19

Health authorities have issued an impassioned plea for individuals to avail themselves of the flu vaccine, following last winter’s alarming statistics that saw the virus claiming more lives than Covid-19.

During the winter of 2022/23, the flu proved to be a more deadly adversary than its viral counterpart, Covid-19, leading to over 14,000 excess deaths and over 10,000 child hospitalizations, according to data from the UK Health Security Agency. The agency’s models also indicated that last winter’s flu vaccination program mitigated approximately 25,000 hospital admissions, despite the nearly 50,000 that were recorded throughout the season.

In stark contrast, COVID-19, which has been at the forefront of global health concerns, was responsible for 10,345 deaths in the same timeframe. Consequently, the UKHSA is diligently prompting groups recognized as being vulnerable – including pregnant individuals, young children, and those with chronic conditions – to prioritize receiving their flu vaccinations.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Thomas Waite, underscored the pertinence of vaccination against both prevalent viruses: “Flu and Covid co-circulated last winter, creating pronounced peaks and translating to thousands of hospitalizations and fatalities. Vaccination remains our paramount shield, thus if you’re eligible, please proactively receive your vaccinations at the earliest.”

In a proactive move this past August, flu and COVID-19 vaccine programs were expedited following the identification of the BA.2.86 variant. As opposed to the originally scheduled rollout in October, individuals began receiving their vaccinations on September 11.

This preemptive strategy, the UKHSA noted, was designed to amplify protection against illnesses, especially among the most vulnerable, while also mitigating the burden on the NHS. Vaccines Minister, Maria Caulfield, emphasized: “The early commencement of the NHS winter vaccination campaign and the continuation of this winter’s rollout underpin our unwavering efforts to imbue our communities with immunity against both Covid and flu, safeguarding our most susceptible citizens.”

Highlighting the flu’s more considerable strain on hospitals than Covid last year, Ms. Caulfield emphasized the crucial role the public plays in alleviating stress on the healthcare system, urging immediate action to receive flu and Covid jabs, thereby shielding not only oneself but also loved ones from potential infection.

With 2.8 million people having received their flu jabs and over one million autumn Covid jabs administered since September, Ms. Caulfield encourages: “Please come forward and secure your vaccinations to shield both yourself and your loved ones.”

On an optimistic note, the UKHSA pointed out that data from this year’s winter in the southern hemisphere reveals that flu vaccines are performing well against the currently circulating strains, with the Australian Government officially categorizing its flu season as having “low” clinical severity.

For those eligible to receive the vaccines, appointments can be secured via the NHS website, through the NHS app, or by dialing 119. Additionally, parents of two and three-year-olds as of August 31 are advised to arrange a nasal spray flu vaccine through their GP.

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