This winter, because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the NHS has the largest flu vaccination programme ever with vaccinations now being offered to those aged 50 to 64 years old.
Who is the programme being extended to?
Vaccinations are continuing to be offered to those in priority groups (such as those with long term health conditions), but there is now sufficient vaccine available to offer it to all those aged 50 to 64 years old regardless of whether they have a long-term health condition.
Why has the flu vaccination programme been extended?
The flu virus kills thousands of people every year and hospitalises tens of thousands more. The aim of the programme is to protect those most at risk from flu (such as older people, pregnant women and those with long term health conditions). This winter, with COVID-19 in
circulation, the programme is being extended to those aged 50 and over because this is the age at which hospitalisations for COVID-19 start to increase.
It is important to prevent flu in this group, to protect these people from serious illness and reduce hospitalisations from flu. Also, research shows that if you get both flu and COVID-19 at the same time you may be more seriously ill.
So vaccination is especially important this winter.
What should I do?
If you are aged 50 to 64 years old (including those who turn 50 by 31 March 2021) then during January you will be invited to attend your GP surgery for the vaccine or you may contact any pharmacy offering NHS flu vaccinations.
If you have a long-term health condition that puts you more at risk from flu, you are in one of the priority groups who should not delay getting the vaccine.
Visit www.nhs.uk/flujab to check the type of health conditions that this includes.
Which flu vaccine will I be offered?
There are several types of flu vaccine available, including an additional one this winter that has been used in the USA for several years. There are vaccines that have low-egg content and egg-free vaccines. The injectable flu vaccines do not contain live viruses.
None of the flu vaccines can give you flu.