More than 2,000 pregnant women in County Durham could have missed out on their free flu jab last winter.
Mums-to-be and others deemed ‘at risk’, such as over-65s or people with conditions such as asthma or diabetes, can also get the vaccine without having to pay.
But despite this more than 50,000 people eligible for the offer are not thought to have taken it up in 2018, with care chiefs keen to improve numbers ahead of the official start of flu season next month (December).
“The more we normalise the uptake of flu jabs the more people will promote it,” said Dr Stewart Findlay, chief clinical officer at the Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield (DDES) and North Durham Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).
“The problem I have with the way pharmacies’ work is that, to date, we’ve had competition between pharmacists and GPs.
“It’s not helpful to the population, we have to find a way to work together to target patients to maximise the work of both.”
Dr Findlay was speaking at this morning’s (Wednesday, November 27) meeting of Durham County Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, which heard an update from the County Durham and Darlington Flu Prevention Board on vaccination efforts.
The flu jab is available from GPs and pharmacists, as well as midwives for pregnant women and costs about £10-13 for those not eligible to receive it for free.
Autumn, from the beginning of October to the end of November, is thought to be the best time to get it, ahead of the flu season, which runs December – March, according to the NHS.