Flu jab season is slowly approaching and this year will see a raft of new changes. The Government is planning to double its winter flu vaccination programme, which last year saw about 15 million people receive the flu jab. This year, that figure could double to a staggering 30 million as Boris Johnson raises concerns about the impact flu and COVID-19 admissions to hospital could do to the NHS this winter.
Can YOU get the flu vaccination this year?
Currently the free NHS flu programme is for people aged 65 and over, pregnant women, or children over six months with a long-term health condition, those aged two and three and those in primary school.
You can also get the flu jab if you suffer form certain conditions such as kidney disease, asthma or heart disease.
Carers or those in care homes are also eligible, along with frontline healthcare workers.
However, under the new plans this could be opened up even further.
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Children who are aged 11 by the end of August this year (the first year of secondary school) will now be included.
And vaccinations for patients aged 50-64 will be rolled out “once vaccination of the most at-risk groups is well underway”, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.
Anyone living in a household with somebody who is shielding will also be eligible for a free jab.
The Government is promising to “work with clinicians to decide” when the rollout to this group should go ahead.
NHS England is predicting an increased uptake among groups previously eligible for flu jabs because of health fears triggered by the pandemic .
And the health service is expecting ‘universal’ uptake among healthcare staff.
Flu jabs are currently not mandatory for healthcare workers, but all are advised to get vaccinated as part o their professional duty.
The increase in flu jabs comes as the Government begins to plan for the winter months, amid fears the UK could see a second spike of coronavirus.
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “It’s mission critical that we pull out all the stops to get ready for winter, and the Prime Minister has already announced £3 billion to protect the NHS.
“We are now taking another important step to help protect the wider public by giving the flu vaccination to more people than ever before.
“This will be the biggest flu vaccination programme in history, and will help protect our NHS as we head into winter.
“If you are eligible for a free vaccine, whether it’s for the first time or because you usually receive one, then I would urge you to get it, not just to protect yourself, but to protect the NHS and your loved ones, from flu.”
England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said: “Flu can have serious consequences and vulnerable people can die of it.
“Having the vaccine protects you, and helps reduce transmission to others.
“This winter more than ever, with Covid-19 still circulating, we need to help reduce all avoidable risks.
“Vaccinating more people will help reduce flu transmission and stop people becoming ill.”
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