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Over-65s to be given more effective flu vaccine

This article was taken from: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/sep/12/over-65s-to-be-given-more-effective-flu-vaccine

By Sarah Boseley Health edito

Public Health England says newly licensed drug FluAd will save 30,000 GP consultations and prevent 700 hospital deaths

A flu vaccine that was licensed in Italy 20 years ago is to be used for the first time in the UK this winter in a bid to cut the death toll among older people from the infectious disease.

Public Health England says the vaccine, only now available in England, could reduce GP consultations by 30,000, hospital visits by more than 2,000 and prevent more than 700 hospital deaths. It is an adjuvanted vaccine, which will boost the immune system of the over-65 age group and give them better protection than in the past.

Last year flu took a big toll, particularly of older people. “Each year there are on average around 8,000 deaths from flu but last year there were about 15,000, significantly more than we usually see,” said Prof Paul Cosford, PHE’s medical director.

In older people, the vaccine was thought to have been only about 30% effective. The adjuvanted vaccine “probably adds 20% to the effectiveness figure” said Cosford.

Only the over-65s will get the adjuvanted vaccine, which contains three flu strains. Younger people and others who are vulnerable will get a new quadrivalent vaccine. There is no adjuvanted vaccine on the market at the moment which will protect against four strains of flu.