NHS gearing up to deliver essential winter vaccines
The NHS is gearing up to deliver the safe and effective annual flu vaccination programme from autumn as it’s the best protection against flu and its compilations.
Flu and coronavirus can make some people seriously ill and it’s more important than ever to get the flu vaccine if you're eligible to, particularly as it is expected that this will be the first winter when COVID-19 will co-circulate alongside the seasonal influenza virus.
The flu vaccine is free for older people, pregnant women, and those with certain underlying medical conditions.
The expanded influenza vaccination programme that we had last year, will continue this year (2021 to 2022). This means that the offer for 50 to 64 year olds will continue to protect this age group.
In addition, this year’s programme has been extended to 4 additional cohorts in secondary school so that all those from years 7 to year 11 will be offered the vaccination.
Therefore, those eligible for the free flu vaccination on the NHS this year (2021 to 2022) are:
· all children aged 2 to 15 (but not 16 years or older) on 31 August 2021
· those aged 6 months to under 50 years in clinical risk groups
· pregnant women
· those aged 50 years and over
· those in long-stay residential care homes
· close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
· frontline health and social care staff employed by:
· a registered residential care or nursing home
· registered domiciliary care provider
· a voluntary managed hospice provider
· Direct Payment (personal budgets) and/or Personal Health Budgets, such as Personal Assistants.
Children aged 2 and 3 will continue to be offered the quick and easy nasal spray through their GP and all school aged children will be offered it in school unless they have an underlying health condition. An alternative flu vaccine, in the form of an injection, will again be available this year for children whose parents decline the flu nasal spray due to its porcine gelatine content.
The JCVI’s interim advice is that any potential COVID-19 booster programme should be offered in two stages from September, starting with those most at risk from serious disease. This includes people aged over 70, clinically extremely vulnerable adults and those who are immunosuppressed.
The NHS is expecting a decision very soon as to whether the flu vaccination and COVID-19 booster can be given together, at the same time.
Flu is very infectious and easily spread to other people from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours. To reduce the risk of spreading flu wash your hands often with warm water and soap, use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze and bin used tissues as quickly as possible.
Please keep a look out on your GP practice website for more information or visit the NHS website.