Your health:

Time to get a jab?

 Laura Johnson
British health services are still struggling to get pregnant women to have the flu jab, it seems.

Senior doctors lined up yesterday to plead with women to agree to the flu vaccine - but it looks as though we are keener to give it to children than ourselves.

Flu has taken the lives of many pregnant women in the last three years since the arrival of "swine flu".

And while Britain's 300,000 pregnant women continue to reject vaccination, many young mothers want their children to have it, according to one survey.

By yesterday just 14 per cent of women who are pregnant had received a flu vaccine. The vaccine had reached 55 per cent of those over the age of 65 and 32 per cent of those in at risk groups under the age of 65, such as those with heart conditions.

Chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said many people believed flu vaccination would give you a dose of flu - and this was not true.

Dame Sally said: "The vaccine does not include the live virus. It can save your life though. Flu can kill – and it can be particularly dangerous for people in at risk groups. They are on average 11 times more likely to die from flu than a healthy person is.

"If you haven’t been called for a flu jab and are in an at risk group, it’s time to contact your GP to make an appointment."

A web-based survey of mothers found that 42 per cent of women think all children be offered the flu jab.
The move is backed by virologist Professor John Oxford, who says that children can spread the virus rapidly.

Professor Oxford said: "Although children without existing health conditions do not often get seriously ill from seasonal influenza themselves, they are carriers and spreaders of infection. Vaccination provides the best protection against flu and prevents infection being passed amongst very young children.

"The UK still lags behind other countries on this issue despite vaccination being shown to not only protect children but also the elderly and other at risk groups by herd immunity."

A senior GP Dr George Kassianos, of the Royal College of GPs, said: "Despite being a preventable disease, flu continues to kill every year and places a significant burden on our healthcare systems, general practice and hospitals.

"Vaccination is without doubt one of the most cost-effective health achievements of modern times and could help save lives each and every year."

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