Newly published government reports have highlighted the numbers of Islanders who were vaccinated against flu during the closing months of 2020, and the effect of this on levels of illness.
Although no exact figures were given, a graph showed a sharp fall in presentations of flu-like illnesses to GPs in 2020–21 compared with the two previous winter seasons.
The government has stated that the 2020–21 flu immunisation programme was the most successful on record, with 78% of over-65s receiving a vaccine, compared with figures ranging from 55 to 63% for the four previous winters.
Jersey’s figure of 78% was above the minimum coverage level of 75% stipulated by both Public Health England and the World Health Organisation and compared with figures of 77% in Wales, 80% in Scotland and 81% in England.
The Jersey flu vaccination programme also reached 44% of those aged 16 to 64 classed as ‘at risk’, up from 25% the previous year, and 45% of all those aged 50–64, who were included for the first time.
A total of 8,980 school-aged children in Jersey were vaccinated against flu in 2020–21, an increase of more than 1,600 from the previous year, while 69% of those aged two to four were vaccinated – a 5% increase from 2019–20.
The 2021 vaccination programme began this week with the administration of the nasal flu vaccine to pupils in Island schools across the next four weeks, while flu vaccination for adults is expected to commence from 18 October.
Health Minister Richard Renouf said: ‘Covid-19 mitigation measures such as wearing face masks, staying at home, hand-washing, reduced travel, increased ventilation of indoor spaces, and physical distancing, are likely to have contributed to the low level of flu incidence in 2020–2021. Additionally, the high uptake of the influenza vaccination will have contributed to reduced flu illness during the 2020–21 season.
‘I urge all eligible Islanders to take up the flu vaccine in order to protect themselves and others around them this winter.’