Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that everybody should get a flu vaccination to prevent the health service getting overwhelmed in winter if the coronavirus outbreak flares up.
Johnson described people opposed to vaccinations as “nuts,” as he promoted the government’s expanded programme of flu jabs.
“There’s all these anti-vaxxers now. They are nuts, they are nuts,” he said, as he toured a medical centre in east London.
The government has widened its winter flu vaccination programme, given fears that combined with a second wave of coronavirus infections, NHS could be overwhelmed.
The vaccine will be free for the most vulnerable groups, including older people, those with underlying conditions, and younger children.
The Department of Health and Social Care aims to vaccinate more than 30 million when the programme gets under way later this year, it said in a statement.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock called it “the biggest flu vaccination programme in history, and will help protect our NHS as we head into winter.”
AIMp wants details for pharmacies
Welcoming the move, the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) said the government should immediately provide the details of the service to pharmacies.
“Community pharmacy has demonstrates that we are very capable of delivering such clinical services and we want to be trusted and empowered to deliver, not just flu but other clinical services to support the NHS and public health,” Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of AIMp, commented.
“However, frontline pharmacy teams through the UK with less than 6 weeks to go feel in a state of suspended animation as to the detail or guidance to support procurement or delivery of the service.”
Hannbeck, however, expressed disappointment over the lack of proper recognition of the role community pharmacies play in the programme.
“We are increasingly concerned about the sector’s consistent ommitance from briefings unless prompted,” she said.
RPS says pharmacy must help deliver new flu vax programme
Responding to the Government’s announcement of a new expanded flu vaccination programme, RPS Director of Pharmacy and Member Experience Robbie Turner said: “The Government’s plan to expand the flu vaccination programme is excellent news. It will help patients, ready the NHS for the risk of a second peak of coronavirus and relieve winter pressures on A&E and emergency care.
“The seasonal flu campaign helps protect vulnerable groups from winter flu by offering free vaccinations. Flu is a potentially fatal condition and the significant expansion of the programme will protect the health of many more people.
“Pharmacists have been an integral part of the vaccination programme for several years, so it makes sense for them to help deliver this expanded programme. Pharmacies are typically open longer hours than GP surgeries and can often offer vaccinations at any time, making them a very convenient and easy way to protect the public against flu.”
Experts commissioned by the government’s chief scientific officer have warned that if no action was taken now, nearly 120,000 people could die in hospitals alone in a second coronavirus outbreak.
Nikki Kanani, medical director of primary care for NHS England and Improvement, said: “GPs, nurses, community pharmacists and others will be going to great lengths this year to give this vital protection to millions more people in a safe and convenient way, so when the time comes I would urge everyone invited for a flu vaccination to get it as soon as possible.”