Patient safety

24.07.20

Comprehensive flu programme to be rolled out this winter

More than 30 million people will receive the flu vaccination during this flu season as part of the most comprehensive flu programme in UK history, which is set to be rolled out this winter according to a government announcement.

A significant new group will become eligible for the free flu vaccine as people aged 50 to 64 will be invited later in the season for a vaccination.

As part of an unprecedented drive, a free flu vaccine will also be available to:

  • people who are on the shielded patient list and members of their household
  • all school year groups up to year 7
  • people aged over 65, pregnant women, those with pre-existing conditions including at-risk under the age of two.

Once vaccination of the most ‘at-risk’ groups is well underway, the Department of Health will work with clinicians to decide when to open the programme to invite people aged 50 to 64, with further details to be announced in due time.

The NHS will contact people directly, including information detailing where to go to receive the vaccine.

The expanded flu vaccination programme is part of plans outlined to help prepare the NHS, both for the risk of a second peak of coronavirus cases and to relieve the regular winter pressures faced on A&E and emergency care. Increased vaccinations will help to reduce pressure on the NHS this winter by preventing flu-sickness which can cause hospitalisation and even death.

The announcement comes alongside a £3bn announcement for the NHS by the Prime Minister earlier this month to relieve winter pressures on A&E and emergency care in case of a second spike in infections.

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 £3bn 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.”

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty added: “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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