A NEW vaccine for over 65s has the potential to prevent death by improving the body's immune system against influenza.

According to a Public Health England (PHE) conference, the new vaccine comes after records show there were 152 admissions to hospital intensive care units across the South West last year relating to the flu (2017/18).

The vaccine is now available in the UK, with hopes to reduce flu-related GP consultations by 30,000 and prevent over 700 deaths, PHE heard.

The broader flu vaccination program will also be improved by offering a quadrivalent vaccine in injected form, which protects against two strains of flu A and two strains of flu B.

This vaccine is eligible for adults under 65 and can also be accessed by pregnant women and individuals with long-term health problems.

Medical Director for NHS England South West, Dr Caroline Gamlin said: “Last winter we saw a particularly harmful flu season and it placed a very serious burden on NHS resources.

"We know this year that staff will continue to do a fantastic job to ‘Help us Help You’ and minimise the spread of flu and help to protect those who are most vulnerable to the virus.

"Eligible adults are encouraged to get their free vaccine from their local general practice or pharmacy before the end of November to protect themselves and their families before flu reaches its seasonal peak."

Lead Consultant in Screening and Immunisation for PHE South West, Dr Julie Yates said: "While we can never fully predict how the virus [flu] will affect the population each year, the flu vaccine is the best protection we have against it.

“This is why we’re scaling up the programme this year by giving additional protection to as many eligible adults as possible and also offering it to more children."