Government extends free flu vaccines to every adult over 50 during Covid pandemic

Adults aged between 50 and 64 will be eligible for a free flu vaccine from December 1, the Government has announced today.

The roll out is part of the Government's extended flu vaccination programme this winter in a bid to protect people from flu during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Government says it will supply GPs, NHS trusts and pharmacists with more than seven million vaccines to cater for the roll out.

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People aged between 50 and 64 will be able to get a vaccine from their GP or pharmacy.

Every adult over 50 can get a free flu vaccine from December 1 (Image: David Cheskin/PA Wire)Every adult over 50 can get a free flu vaccine from December 1 (Image: David Cheskin/PA Wire)
Every adult over 50 can get a free flu vaccine from December 1 (Image: David Cheskin/PA Wire)

Vulnerable groups and over 65s have already been offered a flu vaccine this winter.

New figures suggest the flu vaccine uptake nationally is higher in all vulnerable groups, except pregnant women, compared to this time last year.

Provisional data published by Public Health England on November 19 suggests 72.9 per cent of those aged 65 and over, 45 per cent of two-year-olds and 46.8 per cent of three-year-olds have had their vaccine.

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Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said: "This winter is like no other, and we have to worry about the twin threats of flu and Covid-19.

“Covid means getting a flu jab is more important than ever this year. So we are delivering the largest ever flu vaccination programme.

"Free vaccinations for 50 to 64-year-olds will now be available from GPs and pharmacies starting from December 1.”

Public Health Minister, Jo Churchill said: “To prepare for this challenging winter, we committed to protect as many people as possible from the flu, to keep those at risk safe and reduce the strain on our NHS.

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"I am pleased we are now able to deliver on that commitment with those aged 50 to 64 invited to get their free flu vaccine from the start of December.

“These vaccinations are already being given to our existing priority groups and that vital work will continue.

"More vaccine is flowing into GPs and pharmacies throughout the next few months, and I would urge anyone eligible for their flu vaccine to get one including all health and social care workers.”

Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Jonathan Van-Tam:

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“Influenza vaccination is a critical tool this and every winter to prevent severe illnesses and potential hospitalisations for thousands of people.

“I urge all those who are eligible for the flu vaccine, including the new group of 50-64 year olds, to book their appointments as soon as they can.”

More than 40 mass vaccination centres to be set up across England

More than 40 mass vaccination centres will be set up across England as part of the coronavirus vaccination effort, it has been reported.

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The Health Service Journal (HSJ) said that NHS England has told local leaders that each of the 42 health and care systems in England should have at least one mass vaccination site.

Senior sources told HSJ that a larger system could have two.

These are likely to be in conference centres or similar large venues, HSJ added.

Derby City Council said talks were under way with the Government to use Derby Arena as a temporary facility to help administer the vaccine, developed by Pfizer.

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The vaccine, said to be 95% effective, is currently awaiting national approval from the UK medicines regulator following successful clinical trial testing involving 43,500 people.

It was hailed at the daily Government press conference at Downing Street on Monday as a “very important scientific breakthrough” by deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam.

Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director in England, said on Wednesday the NHS was “working incredibly hard” to ensure it is ready to deliver coronavirus vaccines as soon as they get approval.

Prof Powis told a Downing Street data briefing that the health service is working to get ready to deploy different vaccines as soon as trials are finished and regulators have given approval.

He said this would be through traditional vaccine routes such as GPs and pharmacies and also dedicated vaccination centres.

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