More than 30m people during the autumn will be offered a free flu vaccine, the government has announced.
The Department of Health and Social Care has announced that as part of the programme extension, everyone over the age of 50 will be offered the vaccine.
The vaccine will also be available for people who are on the shielded patient list and members of their household.
All school year groups up to year 7 and people aged over 65, pregnant women, those with pre-existing conditions including at-risk under 2s will also qualify for a free vaccination.
All frontline health and social care workers will also be urged to get their free vaccine to protect themselves and their patients or residents from the flu.
‘Flu can have serious consequences and vulnerable people can die of it. Having the vaccine protects you, and helps reduce transmission to others,’ said the government’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty.
‘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.’
The announcement was welcomed by Dr Graham Jackson, senior clinical advisor at the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector.
‘The decision to expand the free availability of the vaccine to protect vulnerable people is welcome and we would encourage all health and care staff to be vaccinated where appropriate,’ said Dr Jackson.
‘More details are needed about the extra funding for primary care to help administer the biggest and most comprehensive flu campaign that this country has ever seen.
‘We expect the Care Quality Commission to take into account the scale of the challenge and that pragmatic solutions will be needed regarding the health and safety issues of delivering vaccinations offsite. Extra supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) will also be needed,’ he added.
‘Flu coordinators in systems must address concerns that health inequalities could be worsened because vulnerable people needing the vaccination do not seek it.’
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