More people than ever before will be invited to have a free flu vaccination on the NHS from this autumn.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said the expanded flu vaccination programme is part of plans to prepare the NHS – both for the risk of a second peak of coronavirus cases, and to relieve winter pressures on A&E and emergency care services.
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The new groups eligible for flu jabs are:
- people aged 50 to 64
- people who are on the ‘shielded list’ and members of their household
- year 7 pupils (first year of secondary school)
Existing eligible groups will also be offered flu jabs:
- people aged 65+
- people, including babies from 6 months, with chronic or serious health conditions
- pregnant women
- all children aged 2-10 years
- care home residents
- people with learning disabilities
- health or social care staff
Local GPs and pharmacies are now trying to plan how they will give flu jabs this winter. Last year many GPs ran walk-in weekend clinics, while pharmacies gave free flu jabs to eligible people in on-site consulting rooms.
But social distancing and Covid-secure rules for health premises, mean that things will have to be done differently this year, possibly with drive-through clinics or at church or community halls, with people filling out consent forms before they arrive.
The timing of flu immunisation sessions depends on when suppliers can deliver. The government hopes the most at-risk groups will get them between September and November.