Press Release – 15 September 2020

Sarah Owen MP urges people to get their flu jab to protect NHS capacity this Winter

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Luton North’s Labour MP Sarah Owen has strongly urged people, particularly vulnerable groups, to get a flu vaccine in order to protect as much capacity as possible this Winter as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

At visits to both of the Rowlands Pharmacy branches in the Sundon Park area, Ms Owen met with pharmacy staff to discuss the critical frontline role that community pharmacies have played during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing access to medicines and essential healthcare support and advice at a time when access to GP surgeries and A&E departments were understandably restricted. Community pharmacies will continue to play a frontline role as the pandemic and its effects limit the NHS’s time and resources.

A strong campaigner on health issues in Parliament, Owen last week challenged Matt Hancock on the government’s preparedness for this year’s flu season, receiving assurances that health providers are well prepared for flu season this Winter, with extra measures being taken through the year to ensure supply, especially in light of the pandemic.

Sarah has been working with Labour colleagues to lobby the government to extend the offer of free flu vaccinations to those aged 50 and over to safeguard the NHS against a winter flu outbreak and a resurgence of coronavirus this year.

Whilst the flu jab does not protect against coronavirus, many are concerned about the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on NHS capacity as we approach the Winter. The government has previously announced that they expect over 30 million people will receive the flu vaccine this year, with the aim of protecting NHS capacity – both for the risk of an increase in the number of coronavirus cases, and to relieve winter pressures on A&E and emergency care. Increased vaccinations will help to reduce pressure on the NHS this winter by preventing flu-sickness which can cause hospitalisation and even death.

As of Monday 14th September, the total number of coronavirus cases in the borough now stands at 1,839, two more than the previous day.

Luton North MP Sarah Owen commented:

“This year, it’s more important that ever to get your flu vaccines if you can, especially those over 50 and those in vulnerable groups.”

“I got mine from Mariam at Rowlands Pharmacy in Sundon Park.”

“We’ve all worked hard since February and March to do our bit to suppress the spread of coronavirus and help protect our NHS. Even though the flu jab doesn’t protect against covid-19, it’s so important that we save as much capacity in the health service as possible.”

Mark Bather, Rowlands Managing Director added:

“COVID-19 has had a profound effect on communities and the value they place on pharmacy and this flu season will provide an opportunity like no other to deliver both NHS and private flu vaccinations.”

“We believe that communities will have a ‘forever changed’ perception of not only their own health, but the heath of others and will have a new found respect for the NHS and pressures associated with treating conditions that could otherwise be prevented.”

“We were delighted to have welcomed Sarah Owen MP into our Sundon Park branch to receive her flu vaccination.  We are very grateful to Ms Owen for actively encouraging people to get their flu jab this season, in particular those who fall into the more vulnerable categories.   We are proud to stand against flu and to support our communities to stay well this winter.”

To view Sarah’s question to the Health Secretary on flu season, see here: