Health Matters – September 2021

Three Issues  in this month’s Health Matters

  • The Flu Jab
  • Social Care
  • Covid Update

1. The Flu Jab – Yes – it’s that time of year again; and just because the flu season was pretty mild last year (that’s one positive from the Covid Lockdown!) don’t assume it’ll be the same this year! Look at it this way …… by not getting flu last year your resistance to it this year is much lower!

The original plan was that the flu jab would roll out from this week – but that’s been put back two weeks.

Who’s eligible? Over 50s (including those who are 50 by March 31 2022), plus long term conditions, pregnant ladies and both healthcare and social care professionals.

How effective is it? Traditionally it’s been 40-60% effective depending on how good the predictions actually worked out, and the type of flu that is most prevalent. The effectiveness is much higher against the Influenza B virus than the A virus.

How do we catch flu? Similar to Covid but typically from a sneeze rather than a cough; so it’s airborne germs or touching contaminated surfaces. As ever, avoid enclosed spaces as far as possible, and personal hygiene (especially hand-washing) is critical.

Where can I get the Vaccine? As in previous years it’s at your surgery or at a local pharmacy. GPs are generally working within their Primary Care Networks and will contact you to book an appointment and tell you the location as soon as they have the supplies. Alternatively you will be able to book an appointment at a Pharmacy when they are assured of the supplies.

What about the Covid booster jab ? The plan is that if you’re eligible (over 50s, but over 70s first, then over 50 vulnerable followed by remainder of over 50s) you’ll get the booster jab in one arm and the flu jab in the other. But pharmacies won’t be able to store the booster vaccine assuming it’s limited to Pfizer. so you’ll need to get that at your Surgery.

Go to for any further information you need.

2. Social Care – finally they’ve grasped the nettle! As anyone will know if they have someone who needs long-term care this can be a nightmare; and although the solution’s been announced, it’ll be a while before we see the results – other than in our pay packets! Let’s be clear what’s been announced. From October 2023

  • People will no longer have to pay more than £86,000 for their actual care over their lifetime  (i.e. that excludes accommodation)
  • People with assets under £20,000 will get free social care.
  • People with between £20,00 to £100,000 will get means tested help.
  • People with over £100,000 – the cap comes into effect.

How is that to be funded? National Insurance will rise by 1.25% from next April to pay for both additional support to the NHS to tackle the backlog and it will contribute to social care costs.

Here are examples of the actual annual amount people will pay on salaries of:-

  • £20K – £130  per year
  • £30K – £255 per year
  • £50K – £505 per year
  • £80K –  £880 per year
  • £100K –  £1,130 per year

But has this really solved the problem? Not really; there are ongoing fundamental issues that the new system doesn’t really address:-

  • Care Homes have suffered badly during the pandemic – staff sickness, PPE, and high number of deaths in care homes initially. And there are ongoing financial viability and staff shortages involved too.
  • Lack of funding – despite the increase in demand Councils are spending 3% less than in 2010
  • Self-funders are cross subsidising those who are paid for by the Council
  • In addition to the aging population, the growth in cases of Dementia is really driving up demand.

3. Covid Update  –  the numbers are rising again! They peaked in late July at 605 cases per 100,000, by early August they had dropped to 215 but now they’re back up to 511 – an increase of 28% on last week! We’re still above the Hertfordshire average (which is 486). But people  in hospital remains relatively  low (45 in Watford and 36 in Lister).

On Vaccinations– all 12-15 year olds will be offered one dose of the Pfizer jab; 15-18 year olds are still on the normal programme; and of course the Booster Jab has just been announced, and, as we said earlier. It will be delivered at the same time wherever possible. Just wait to be notified by your Surgery!

And finally – the Backlog – it’s still getting bigger and the initial boost from the increased National Insurance tax will be going to address this.The NHS is working on some innovative approaches to tackle this – more on those next month!

Alan Bellinger

September  16 2021

Alan Bellinger Written by:

Alan is a Trustee of Healthwatch Hertfordshire and very well engaged with all things related to Health & Social Care within the Community. After retirement from a successful career in the private sector (working in both training and Information Technology), Alan wanted to get involved in supporting local health issues and has an excellent understanding of what it takes to ensure a great patient experience, Alan has lived in St Albans for well over 65 years; he is a widower with two children and he especially enjoys the company of his five grandchildren – four of whom live in the local area.