Caroline Dinenage - Flu JabCaroline Dinenage MP attended Westminster Flu Day, an annual vaccination clinic held in the House of Commons, to learn about the importance of vaccination and the coverage of key vaccines locally.

Vaccination supports good health at all stages of life and only clean water rivals vaccines as a means of reducing infectious diseases and deaths. When vaccination rates fall, outbreaks with potentially serious consequences can occur. For example, in 2012-13 a measles outbreak in Swansea resulted in 1,202 reported cases, 88 hospital admissions and 1 death.

6 million working days are lost in the UK due to seasonal influenza every year, and between 1947 and 2007 the value to society of NHS immunisation programmes was £6.6 billion per year.

Caroline learned that in Hampshire coverage of vaccines protecting against Flu, HPV, MMR, PPV and Shingles is better than the national average. Worryingly however, in Portsmouth, coverage of vaccines for Shingles and PPV is below the national average. She also learned that coverage of the flu vaccine among at-risk individuals, such as the over 65s and asthma sufferers, has decreased across Hampshire in recent years.

Flu vaccination is available every year on the NHS to help protect adults and children at risk of developing potentially serious complications associated with flu. Anyone in these at-risk groups is advised to have the flu injection annually, as flu viruses are constantly changing.

Commenting, Caroline said: ‘Having Asthma means flu could be particularly nasty for me, so I always make sure to have my annual jab. While I was pleased to learn that vaccination coverage across Hampshire is better than average, it’s worrying that fewer people at risk of developing complications from flu are having the vaccine. I would urge anyone eligible for the NHS funded flu jab to take advantage of this, and protect both themselves and their families this winter’.