Providers will work to vaccinate more than 30 million people during this flu season – millions more than received it last year, the Department of Health and Social Care has announced.
The expansion of the flu vaccination programme is part of plans to ready the NHS – both for the risk of a second peak of coronavirus cases, and to relieve winter pressures on A&E and emergency care.
According to the Government, increased vaccinations will help to reduce pressure on the NHS this winter by preventing flu-sickness which can cause hospitalisation and even death.
‘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,’ said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
‘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.’
As part of the initiative, a free flu vaccine will also be available to 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.
‘Flu can have serious consequences and vulnerable people can die of it. Having the vaccine protects you, and helps reduce transmission to others,’ said 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.’