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Free winter flu vaccination programme for 50 to 64 year olds has started on Tuesday (December 1).

This follows the government’s announcement that the 2020 flu vaccination programme would be extended with the addition of this new cohort, as part of a new phase of this year’s expanded flu vaccination programme.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has segmented potential use the vaccines into three groups, A, B, and C with initial use of the stock only allowed for group ‘A’ patients.

From today onwards, pharmacy contractors can use the DH flu vaccine stock for two groups: ‘A’ and ‘B’.

The group ‘A’ consists of patients and frontline health and social care workers including community pharmacists. The group ‘B’ consists of 50 to 64 year olds, under the NHS advanced service.

Prior to Tuesday, the DH stock was used to vaccinate patients in the group ‘A’.

All other patients come under group ‘C’ through private provision or occupational health schemes. Pharmacies will only be able to use the DH procured stock for this group of patients if surplus stock is available and DH notifies pharmacies that this is permissible.

Individuals under group ‘B’ will be able to get a vaccine from their GP or pharmacy.

Flu vaccines for people over 50s have been secured amid high global demand for more flu vaccine. The vaccines can be provided to this group over December and into the New Year.

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.

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