Flu awareness lifesaver

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FEWER lives have been put at risk from flu this winter because of a major awareness-raising programme driven by NHS Derby City and NHS Derbyshire County.

The two NHS trusts – who are working together to support the handover of NHS budgets to local GP commissioning groups from April 2013 – smashed national flu targets to hit their best-ever seasonal flu vaccination figures.

In Derbyshire, 75.6 per cent of elderly people had the jab, beating the 75 per cent target.

Health bosses put their success down to a number of key initiatives, including working with hospital managers, community health workers, GP practices and midwives to raise awareness about the risks of flu to the most vulnerable groups.

GPs, in their new role as commissioners, were also able to use their influence to push home the message that GP practice staff should have the jab to prevent the spread of the virus to vulnerable patients. Midwives have also worked closely with GP practices to raise awareness about the risks the flu can have on pregnant women.

“Traditionally the flu jab has always been seen as a jab for the elderly, but we’re starting to see a shift in public perception and this is leading to more people from eligible vulnerable groups coming forward to have the jab,” Mrs Careless added.

Circulation of the flu virus typically peaks in mid winter, although peaks can occur at any time of the year