More than 20 million people in England have had their flu jabs as the number of patients in critical care with the virus hits its highest yet this winter, new NHS figures show today.
Around four in five people aged 65 and over, as well as more than three in five of those aged 50 to 64, have had their flu vaccine.
Data published today shows flu inpatients are still much higher than they have been since the pandemic hit, with 5,263 people in hospital with the virus last week.
The number of patients in critical care with flu has risen again to 349, up by around five percent on the previous week.
While 20 million people have had a flu jab and more than 17 million people have had a covid booster, there are still a number of eligible people who have not taken up their winter vaccinations, placing themselves at an increased risk of serious illness.
The NHS is still offering protection to thousands of people every day at thousands of sites across the country.
NHS Director of Vaccinations and Screening Steve Russell said: “The NHS has been able to deliver more than 37 million vaccinations this winter, including 20 million flu jabs, thanks to the determination and hard work of NHS staff.
“This has provided crucial protection to the most vulnerable in our society but we are still in the eye of the storm with the highest number of patients in critical care with flu we have seen so far this winter.
“So the message is clear – if you are eligible for a vaccination and yet to come forward, I would strongly urge you to join the millions who have already had theirs and book your winter jabs through your GP, local pharmacy or on the national booking service, and protect yourselves and your loved ones from serious illness”.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “It’s incredible that more than 20 million eligible people have rolled up their sleeves for their vital flu vaccine. Now is the time to redouble our efforts given 5000 hospital beds a day are currently taken up by flu patients and for those who have still to get their jab to now do so.
“If you are over 50 or have an underlying health condition, I encourage you to come forward to get the protection you need this winter and together we can minimise any additional strain on our services. We are particularly encouraging pregnant women to have their vaccine as the clinical advice is that this is the best way they can protect themselves and their unborn baby.
“Our hardworking NHS staff and volunteers are on hand to get jabs in arms and with thousands of sites open, it couldn’t be easier to take up the protection at a time and place that’s convenient for you. Please join me and over 20 million others and come forward for your jab”.
Those eligible for the flu jab include all people aged 50 and over, health and social care workers, people aged six months and over and considered “at risk” because of another medical condition, as well as pregnant women and kids aged two and three.
Those eligible for the flu jab are:
• People aged 50 and over
• Those aged between six months and 49 years with a specified health condition
• Some secondary school-aged children
• Two and three-year-olds
• Pregnant women
• Primary school-aged children
• Those in care homes
• People who are carers, as set out in the Green Book
• Frontline healthcare workers
• Frontline social care staff who do not have access to occupational health schemes
• Household contacts of people with weakened immune systems.