Free flu jabs for adults over the age of 50 years will now be available from pharmacies and GPs from December 1 as the government begins the next phase of this year’s expanded flu vaccination programme.

In a statement issued this morning, the government said there was enough flu vaccine supply to vaccinate 30 million people throughout this year’s flu season in England and indicated that work was in progress to provide further details on the Covid-19 vaccination deployment plan.

Pharmacists, GPs and hospital trusts can order additional stock to vaccinate individuals aged 50-64 from the centrally secured government supply of over seven million vaccines over December and into the New Year.

“This winter is like no other, and we have to worry about the twin threats of flu and Covid-19,” health secretary Matt Hancock warned, adding: “Covid means getting a flu jab is more important than ever this year. So we are delivering the largest ever flu vaccination programme.” 

Provisional data published by Public Health England today suggests 72.9 per cent of those aged 65 and over, 45.0 per cent of 2 year olds and 46.8 per cent of 3 year olds have already had their flu vaccines.

Pharmacy 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. 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.”

The extended offer comes as part of the most comprehensive flu vaccination programme in the UK’s history this winter, alongside plans to support the NHS as it continues to respond to coronavirus, and to relieve winter pressures on A&E and emergency care.

Deputy chief medical officer for England Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said: “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.”

The rollout of the flu vaccine to over 50s, which is being offered for the first time in England, is separate to any future Covid-19 vaccine rollout and people will be able to receive the flu and Covid-19 vaccinations in parallel.

The NHS is well equipped to administer both, the statement added.

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