The government, concerned that flu and COVID-19 potentially circulating together this winter will be a dreadful combination leading to many excess deaths and hospital admissions, are launching a campaign to encourage all over 65s and those in the groups below to have their flu vaccine this year in particular.
The flu vaccine is offered free on the NHS to anyone with a serious long-term health condition, including:
- respiratory conditions, such as asthma (needing steroid inhaler or tablets), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema and bronchitis
- heart conditions, such as coronary heart disease or heart failure
- being very overweight – a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above
- chronic kidney disease
- liver disease, such as hepatitis
- neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or cerebral palsy
- a learning disability
- problems with your spleen, for example, sickle cell disease, or if you have had your spleen removed
- a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or taking medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
The flu vaccine is given to people who:
- are 65 and over (born on or before 31 March 1956)
- have one of the aforementioned health conditions
- are pregnant
- are in a long-stay residential care
- receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
- live with someone who is at high risk from coronavirus (on the NHS shielded patient list)
- frontline health or social care workers
Later in the year, the flu vaccine may be given to people aged 50 to 64. We expect more information for this group to be available later in the autumn. If you are aged 50 to 64 and in an at-risk group, however, you should not delay having your flu vaccine.
Social distancing and traditional flu clinics do not go together. We have adapted our clinics with consideration to the current circumstances to ensure we are able to vaccinate as many patients as soon as possible while keeping everyone safe. Please be assured if we invite you to the surgery to receive your flu vaccination, you will be safe.
We will be working closely with our community pharmacists to ensure that everyone receives a timely vaccine. It may be that some cohorts of patients will be vaccinated by our community pharmacy partners who will also be able to arrange home visits (e.g. for shielded patients).