Around 25 million people in England will be offered free NHS flu jab this winter, Public Health England has announced.
The number of people eligible has topped 25 million this year as the offer of the vaccine is now extended to all primary school aged children – an extra 600,000 children. Additionally, school vaccination teams, maternity services, general practices and local pharmacies are all now able to provide vaccines to primary school aged children, 2 and 3 year olds, those with underlying health conditions, pregnant women and older adults (aged 65 years and over).
‘Every winter there is always the threat of a bad flu season. Flu is a serious illness and can even be deadly for the most vulnerable of our population,’ said Professor Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at Public Health England.
‘That’s why it’s vital that we are prepared and always working to offer people better protection. This year, more vaccines are available and every primary school child will be offered a flu vaccine. Children are ‘super spreaders’ of flu. Flu vaccination not only protects the children but it also protects other more vulnerable members of the community from a potentially horrible illness.’
For the first time, a wider range of flu vaccines are available including the ‘adjuvanted’ vaccine offered to those aged 65 years and over. The adjuvanted vaccine provided a higher level of protection compared to the standard non-adjuvanted vaccines in this age group last year. In addition, a new cell-based vaccine which protects against 4 strains of flu (quadrivalent) will also be available.
‘People might think that flu is just a cough or cold, but actually this serious illness can have devastating effects on people including causing death in some cases,’ said Professor Stephen Powis, National Medical Director at NHS England.
‘NHS services across England have been working hard to prepare for the winter season, including staff in every part of the country getting their flu jab in the coming weeks, so now we’re appealing to the public to Help Us, Help You by ensuring that you, your children or relatives take up the free and convenient flu vaccine as soon as you can.’