NEIL Hamilton, MS for Mid & West Wales and Leader of UKIP Wales, has added his voice to calls for everyone eligible for a flu vaccination to get protected.
Neil Hamilton, a member of the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs committee, who has the vaccination every year, is urging people to make sure they protect themselves this winter.
“The flu vaccination programme is underway throughout Wales, offering vaccines to individuals most at risk of serious complications from influenza. My message to them all is to make sure it’s at the top of your ‘to-do’ list this autumn.
“This year, more than ever, people are very aware of the dangers of respiratory viral infection and vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and others around you against flu.
“It is good to see figures from last month show that community pharmacy flu vaccinations are ten times the level of 2019, with 16,323 vaccinations delivered this year compared to 1,652 in the same month last year.
“It is vital as many people as possible get protected, particularly those who are most vulnerable. Not only does this protect the individual but also protects the NHS.
“Flu is bad enough on its own but, for anyone who is unfortunate to catch both flu and Covid, the consequences could be severe indeed. I encourage those at high risk to make an appointment with their GP or community pharmacy and get themselves protected before it is too late.”
In July, the Welsh Government announced it would run its largest ever flu vaccination programme.
This year, with the potential for co-circulation of coronavirus and flu, people are being encouraged to take up their flu vaccine if eligible, to protect themselves, their families, communities and the NHS.
Alongside supporting existing eligible groups, including those aged over 65 years, pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions, the programme will lower the eligibility age from 65 to over 50 year olds – who will be vaccinated in a phased approach starting later this year.
Russell Goodway, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy Wales, said: “The community pharmacy network across Wales is gearing up for a potential second wave of COVID-19 over the autumn, fully aware that the challenges during the autumn and winter might be even more acute.
“To help protect the NHS at this critical time, it is more important than ever for those who qualify for the NHS flu vaccination arrange to be vaccinated and it does appear that this important message is getting through.
“86% of community pharmacies are offering the flu vaccination service this year, a 5% increase on last year, and a 10% increase on 2018/19. In terms of individual community pharmacists accredited to vaccinate, there has been a 32% rise in accreditation since October 2019.
“Most patients continue to receive their flu vaccination at their GP surgery and Community Pharmacy Wales continues to encourage patients who have an appointment at their practice to keep this appointment. GP practices and community pharmacies work together to help ensure that as many patients who need to be vaccinated. The September figures show that this provision is moving purposefully to becoming universal, and using your community pharmacy to get a flu vaccination is now the natural option for an ever increasing number of people.”