It’s still not too late to protect vulnerable people against flu this winter – that’s the message from Northamptonshire public health officials as the influenza virus continues to circulate.

Free flu vaccinations are available to NHS and social care staff as well as people in a number of risk groups – over65s, pregnant women, people with long-term health conditions, carers and young children in qualifying age ranges.

Around 80% of health and care staff across the county have already had their flu jabs this winter, with Northamptonshire boasting the highest staff uptake of the vaccination in the whole of the Midlands.

About 70% of over-65s have also been vaccinated, but numbers remain below targets in other risk groups – with only around a third of our county’s pregnant women and two- and three-year-olds having received the vaccination so far.

GP practices, hospitals, pharmacies and other providers of the flu vaccination are being encouraged to get behind a ‘final push’ to ensure more people are protected, while those in eligible groups are urged to contact their GP or community pharmacy.

Dr Annapurna Sen, health protection principal for Northamptonshire, said: “We’d like to thank everyone for their tremendous efforts with implementing the annual seasonal flu vaccination programme this winter. Staff uptake has been excellent and we’re also seeing higher uptake rates for those aged 65 and over compared with the same time last year.

“Usually at this stage of the flu season, many providers may be winding down their vaccination efforts – however, due to a variety of reasons we are behind our targets for vaccination uptake for several cohorts, particularly adults under the age of 65 with long-term health conditions, pregnant women and children aged two and three.

“As influenza activity remains high, we are strongly encouraging providers to continue with their efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible.”

NHS England asks providers to implement the seasonal influenza programme as outlined in service specifications. General practices are required to call in those who are eligible for flu vaccination, and undertake recall for those in clinical risk groups for influenza. Centrally supplied vaccine for children is still available to order and GPs will be reimbursed for vaccines given to all other eligible cohorts.