Flu jab for FREE for over 50s as Hancock says vaccine ‘more important than ever’
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Matt Hancock said the jabs will be available from doctors’ surgeries or pharmacies for people from December 1. People in the 50-64 age group in England have been added to the list for entitlement to free flu vaccination as the Government seeks to minimise the impact of the seasonal virus this winter during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Hancock said: “This winter is like no other, and we have to worry about the twin threats of flu and Covid-19.
“Covid means getting a flu jab is more important than ever this year. So we are delivering the largest ever flu vaccination programme. Free vaccinations for 50-64 years olds will now be available from GPs and pharmacies starting from December 1.”
Department of Health officials said flu vaccine uptake was higher in all vulnerable groups except pregnant women this autumn compared to this time last year.
Provisional data published by Public Health England on yesterday 72.9 percent of those aged 65 and over, 45.0 percent of two year olds and 46.8 percent of three year olds have had their vaccine.
GPs, health trusts and pharmacists can order additional stocks to cover the 50-64 age group from the centrally-secured Government supply of over seven million vaccines.
Ministers secured extra supplies amid high global demand for more flu vaccines this year.
The Government is estimated to have enough flu vaccine supply to inoculate 30million people throughout this year’s flu season in England.
Public Health Minister Jo Churchill said: “To prepare for this challenging winter, we committed to protect as many people as possible from the flu, to keep those at risk safe and reduce the strain on our NHS.
“I am pleased we are now able to deliver on that commitment with those aged 50 to 64 invited to get their free flu vaccine from the start of December.
“These vaccinations are already being given to our existing priority groups and that vital work will continue.
“More vaccine is flowing into GPs and pharmacies throughout the next few months, and I would urge anyone eligible for their flu vaccine to get one including all health and social care workers.”
Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said: “Influenza vaccination is a critical tool this and every winter to prevent severe illnesses and potential hospitalisations for thousands of people.
“I urge all those who are eligible for the flu vaccine, including the new group of 50-64 year olds, to book their appointments as soon as they can.”
The rollout of the flu vaccine to over 50s is separate to any future Covid-19 vaccine rollout.
People will be able to receive the flu and Covid-19 vaccinations in parallel. The NHS is well equipped to administer both.
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