A significant new group will be eligible for the free flu vaccine as people aged 50 to 64 will be invited for a vaccination.
The free flu vaccine will 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 2s
Once vaccination of the most ‘at-risk’ groups is well underway, the department will work with clinicians to decide when to open the programme to invite people aged 50 to 64, with further details to be announced. The NHS will contact people directly, including information about where to go to get the vaccine.
Increased vaccinations will help reduce pressure on the NHS this winter by preventing flu-sickness which can cause hospitalisation and even death.
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 £3 billion 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.
The flu can be a serious disease, especially for vulnerable people or those with underlying health conditions.
Eligible groups are urged to get their free vaccine every year. However with COVID-19 still in circulation, this year’s campaign will be particularly vital to protect the most vulnerable and reduce the number of people needing flu treatment from the NHS.
Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty said:
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.
Seasonal flu is an illness that can be spread by children among themselves and to adults. Last year, the flu programme was expanded to include all primary school aged children for the first time, and this year teams will be visiting secondary schools to vaccinate children in year 7. This will help to contain the spread of this year’s seasonal flu and not only protect children but also vulnerable adults they may be in contact with.