There has been significant disagreement in the influenza vaccination strategy adopted by England and other countries.
While the government said England would scrap Covid measures that saw the annual flu shot given free to adults aged 50-64 and secondary school children aged 11-15, Scotland and Wales have broken ranks and announced that they will continue to offer a vaccine. Complimentary. for these groups.
Before the Covid pandemic, the flu shot was offered across the UK annually to people over 65, primary school children and at-risk groups such as pregnant women and diabetics.
England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland extended the program in winter 2020 to millions of adults aged 50 to 64, as well as teenagers, to reduce the number of people hospitalized with influenza when wards were overcrowded with Covid patients.
The return to England’s pre-pandemic vaccination program comes at a time when experts fear the UK is heading into the worst flu season since the start of the Covid pandemic.
It is believed to be the first time that there has been a significant difference in influenza vaccination methods. Senior advisers said they were “surprised” by NHS England’s decision to scrap the two age groups and had not been consulted.
While the government said England would scrap Covid measures that saw the annual flu shot given free to adults aged 50-64 and secondary school children aged 11-15, Scotland and Wales have broken ranks and announced that they will continue to offer a vaccine. Complimentary. for these groups
Professor Adam Fane, an expert on child vaccines and a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, which advises the government on vaccines, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘It’s rare that there are different vaccination situations across the union, and in this case it looks as if these are financial decisions. Government led because we were not asked to advise.
Meanwhile, Nick Kay, vice president of the National Pharmaceutical Society, described the policy reversal in England as myopic.
“No one can say for sure that we will face the Covid pandemic by winter,” he added.
Studies show that people who contract Covid and flu at the same time are twice as likely to die. However, with most Britons having had at least three vaccinations for Covid, the Department of Health and Social Care has taken the decision to scrap free vaccinations in England. Non-eligibles will now have to pay for one, which costs around £15 from Main Street pharmacies.
Wales announced in April that it would continue to offer the vaccine to people in their 50s and teens, which would cost its government £7.85m.
“Covid has not gone away,” said the country’s Minister of Health and Social Services, Elonid Morgan. Ensuring that many people are protected from influenza will not only help individuals and their communities, but also protect the NHS.
Now The Mail on Sunday can confirm that Scotland has also decided to continue its seasonal flu vaccination programme.
In a letter sent to NHS workers in Scotland last week and seen by this newspaper, the country’s chief medical officer, Professor Sir Gregor Smith, said the move would help protect people over 50 from contracting influenza and Covid.
Sir Gregor also added that the vaccine will be offered to children aged between 11 and 15 ‘to protect the educational environment’ after the disruptions caused by the Covid virus.
Both 2020 and 2021 saw record low rates of influenza infection. Social distancing and wearing masks are believed to have significantly reduced transmission of the virus.
“Flu is not as contagious as Covid, so it doesn’t take much to prevent it from taking off,” said Professor Martin Heberd, an infectious disease expert at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “Now, with people returning to their pre-pandemic behavior in terms of social contact, it makes sense this year to see a return of influenza as well.”
Wales announced in April that it would continue to offer the vaccine to people in their 50s and teens, which would cost its government £7.85m. Now, the Mail on Sunday can confirm that Scotland has also decided to continue its seasonal flu vaccination programme.
Public Health Wales warned last week that it was already seeing more cases of influenza than it expected this time of year.
MS Morgan said: ‘We’re watching an increase in flu numbers right now. We’re probably more worried about starting in the winter.
Prof Hebbard said a similar pattern was being observed across the UK: “There are certainly more cases of background flu now than you’d expect, although the numbers are still relatively small.”
Professor Finn said that despite the policy of dropping the punches, the risks of catching the flu were generally low for those aged 50 to 64.
He added: “Flu tends to get very young or old people into hospital. Those in the middle aren’t really at risk, so we’re never used to vaccinating them. Covid came and we decided to throw everything in the flu.”
But giving more vaccinations isn’t always the answer. You have to think where to draw the line. Those extra punches cost money, and that money can also be spent elsewhere.
In 2019, more than 26,000 people in England and Wales died from influenza, according to the Office for National Statistics. Fewer than 900 of these deaths were in people aged 50 to 64 years.
Scottish health officials believe the free punches are still essential this winter, as they expect that alongside the flu the nation will see another wave of Covid. On May 2, Professor Jason Leach, Scotland’s national medical director, said the country would definitely face a resurgence of Covid.
A Scottish government spokesman said last night: “The seasonal flu vaccination program helps ensure our protection and this will help relieve pressure on the NHS.”
What is the difference between tics and pickpocketing?
The two terms are often used interchangeably, as both refer to spasm-like movements, but there are key differences.
Tics are short movements or sounds that happen suddenly. They are usually recurring habits and are fairly common in childhood, although most children outgrow them within a few months.
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