Comprehensive expansion of flu vaccination this winter

18 September 2020

More than 30 million people in England are to be offered a free flu vaccine this year, described by the government as ‘the most comprehensive flu vaccination programme in the UK’s history’.

It’s part of plans to ‘ready the NHS’ for the risk of a second peak of Covid-19 cases, and to relieve winter pressures on the NHS.

In addition to current at-risk groups in England, a free flu vaccine will be available to people shielding and their households, and to Year 7 pupils for the first time. It will also be made available for 50- to 64-year-olds later in the year.

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty said: ‘This winter more than ever, with Covid-19 still circulating, we need to help reduce all avoidable risks.’

‘[This is] the most comprehensive flu vaccination programme in the UK’s history’

The Welsh Government said that, ‘subject to confirmation by the UK Government that additional vaccine supply will be available’, additional groups to be included in this year’s flu programme include households of people who are shielding. The eligibility age will be reduced from 65 to the over 50s, with vaccinations in a phased approach.

The Scottish Government announced that social care workers, over-55s and household members of those shielding will be added to those eligible for the free flu vaccine. It will look to extend vaccinations to those aged 50 to 54 if vaccine supplies allow.

The Northern Ireland Government announced that vaccines will be made available for staff in independent care homes, school children in Year 8 and contacts of households that have received shielding letters. 

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