Why don’t we all get free flu jabs?

NEW health minister – and Suffolk MP – Dr Dan Poulter did his bit to boost the take-up of flu jabs the other day by allowing cameras in while he was being inoculated.

It was very sensible of him. As someone who was struck down by swine flu three years ago I know just how nasty this is – anyone who says they have “a bit of flu” and struggles into work doesn’t. They have a heavy cold!

What irritates me, though, is that only those in “at risk” groups are offered free flu jabs on the NHS. The rest of us have to pay �10 or �20 to get a jab down the chemist’s.

Then later in the year the government will start complaining that there aren’t enough flu stocks and start urging the “worried well” not to be a drain on resources.

Which begs a couple of questions: Why doesn’t the government buy enough stocks of the vaccine to give it to everyone in the country who wants it?

And why aren’t the jabs offered to everyone – I’m sure that would be cheaper than all the days lost through sickness.

When I saw the picture of Dr Dan, I sent a message to his office asking whether the MPs who were not in the “at risk” groups had to pay for their jabs.

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I have good news for all of you worried about their finances. Dr Dan is entitled to a free jab because he still does occasional shifts as a hospital doctor and healthcare professionals are given them.

MPs who are over 60 years old or are pregnant are entitled to them. And the rest of them are given free jabs as part of a sponsorship deal by the UK Vaccine Industry Group which runs an annual “Westminster Flu Day.”

So while the rest of us have to pay if we want to be safe from the risk of this nasty disease, our MPs are given jabs as a perk of the job.

Now I know why there are so many people trying to get themselves elected to the House of Commons when the General Election comes round!