Covid-19: Free flu jabs offered to all over 50s in England amid 'winter like no other'

2 years ago Views: 2932

Published56 minutes ago

image copyrightGetty Images

People aged 50 to 64 in England will be able to get a free flu jab from 1 December in an attempt to fight the "twin threats" of flu and Covid-19.

The group has been added to a list of people who are already eligible for a flu jab in England, such as those over 65 and health and social care workers.

Thirty million people are being offered the vaccine in England's largest flu-immunisation programme to date.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was a winter "like no other".

"We have to worry about the twin threats of flu and Covid-19," he said, adding that the coronavirus pandemic meant it was "more important than ever" that people got their flu jabs.

Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast that all over 50s would be able to get the vaccine by January.

Asked if he knew from what date people would be able to get a Covid-19 jab, Mr Hancock told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "No. We don't know if we'll be getting coronavirus jabs yet, but we have had two weeks of promising news... so we are preparing the roll-out."

He added: "The likely big numbers - if it comes off - will be next year for a Covid vaccine, but we still hold out the hope that we might get some going in December this year."

A big flu season combined with coronavirus could overwhelm hospitals - especially if many NHS or care-home staff are off sick with flu.

And there is some evidence that a double infection, of Covid-19 and flu together, could be more deadly than getting either single virus.

Flu - or influenza - is a very common, highly infectious disease, caused by a virus.

It can be deadly - particularly for older adults, very young children and people with underlying health conditions.

media captionShould I get a flu jab this winter?

The Department of Health said GPs, NHS trusts and pharmacists can order more doses of the flu vaccine, to accommodate the extra age group, from a centrally-secured government supply.

The other groups of people already eligible for a free flu jab in England are:

Those aged 65 or overPregnant womenPeople with some medical conditions, including diabetes, heart failure and asthmaNHS and social care workersAll children up to Year 7People who were required to shield from coronavirus - and anyone they live with

As health is a devolved issue, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are running separate flu vaccination campaigns.

England's deputy chief medical officer, Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, called on everyone who is eligible for the flu vaccine "to book their appointments as soon as they can".

"Influenza vaccination is a critical tool, this and every winter, to prevent severe illnesses and potential hospitalisations for thousands of people," he added.

media captionA cold, flu or coronavirus - which one do I have?

It comes after some promising developments in the race to find vaccines to end the coronavirus pandemic.

The Department of Health said the NHS was "well-equipped" to offer both the flu vaccine and any future Covid-19 vaccines, and people would be able to receive the two vaccinations "in parallel".

In the autumn, some pharmacists and GP surgeries had to limit flu jabs to the most at-risk groups due to increased demand.

Read Entire Article