An emergency stockpile of 2 million flu vaccines has been set up in preparation for the UK flu season.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, said that the extra supplies will “smooth things out”, in contrast to the shortages reported in certain areas of the country last year, with older jabs being used to fill the gap.
This winter’s stock consists of 16.7 million vaccines compared to 14.7 million last year.
Once again, there will be no promotion of the jabs in England, but Scotland and Northern Ireland will raise awareness through advertising. Professor Davies said that she relies on charities, health workers and pharmacies to spread the word.
Professor David Salisbury, the Government’s Director of Immunisation, warned that it would be taking a risk to miss the vaccination this year: “You need it just as much as last year.”
He warned there was no evidence that last year's vaccination would still offer protection and criticised healthcare workers for avoiding the shot, saying they were “selfish” for neglecting the importance of their patients’ health and of those around them.
Professor Salisbury claimed that healthcare staff are being encouraged to get the shot, but also said that hospitals need to make it easier for workers to get vaccinated.
Last year, 35% of healthcare employees were vaccinated with the flu shot, an increase of 26% from the year before.
The jab will protect against swine flu (H1N1) as well as the H3N2 and Flu B strains. These are the same three viruses that were covered by the vaccine last year.
Read more of the story on the BBC website.