Flu jabs in Reading are being snapped up quickly as people try to protect themselves from illness during the second wave of coronavirus.
Last month we described how Reading GPs were warning healthy 50-64-year-olds that they would have to wait for their free flu jabs until later this year because over-65s, and younger people with chronic diseases were being prioritised, as stocks arrived.
Eligible people who don't want to wait for an immunisation appointment at their doctor's, can instead get their NHS flu jab for free from a pharmacy (who will then tell your GP you have had it). Or people can instead pay for it to be done for between £9 and £13.
When Healthwatch Reading searched online for a Boots appointment (on 22 September), we were put in a virtual queue and then got a message stating: 'Due to unprecedented demand for flu vaccinations this year and stock availability for the flu vaccination recommended for under 65s, we have had to suspend bookings for anyone under the age of 65.'
On social media, Reading residents have reported mixed experiences of being able to book an NHS flu jab from Tesco Pharmacy, Superdrug, Lloyds Pharmacy, Boots or smaller local chemists. Some people who said they were eligible for the NHS flu jab were choosing to pay for a private one to avoid waiting.
Are you eligible for a free NHS flu jab?
- 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
New groups of people added by the government recently for this autumn/winter:
- 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)
Flu jabs are being offered in stages by GPs, as stocks arrive. Different types of the vaccine are given depending on your age.
Surgeries will text or write to you to invite you to book an appointment, and when you turn up you will have to wait in a socially distanced queue (probably outside the surgery), and wear clothing that gives easy access to your arm.