People are being thanked for their patience in receiving the flu jab this year as the NHS embarks on its biggest flu vaccination campaign.
This year, the NHS is aiming to vaccinate around 4.5 million people in the South East – up from 2.6 million last winter.
The programme includes children aged 2 and up to school year 7, those under 65 with long term health conditions, pregnant women, people aged 65 and over, carers, and household contacts of those on the NHS Shielded list
Flu vaccine is delivered to GP practices, pharmacies and other services in batches in the run up to and throughout the course of the flu season. This year, early demand for flu vaccine has been higher than usual.
This has meant that while a lot of people have been able to get vaccinated, some people have not been able to get vaccinated straight away.
The flu ‘season’ generally kicks in around December, which means that, although you may have to wait a little longer to get the vaccination, you will still be protected.
Dr Matt Nisbet, a Hampshire GP, said: “It’s great news that more people than ever are eligible for a free NHS flu vaccine through their GP or pharmacy.
“This year the NHS has secured additional centrally held stocks of flu vaccine from which GPs like me can order so that we can continue to vaccinate people throughout the autumn and winter. But flu vaccine has to be kept in a fridge so we’re constantly replenishing our stocks.
“You might know that we’re actually giving three different flu vaccines this year, one for children, one for people over the age of 65, and one for people under the age of 65, so it might be that we’re able to continue vaccinating some people whilst we’re restocking the one that you particularly need.
“It’s brilliant that healthy people between the age of 50 and 64 are able to be vaccinated this year. But I’m sure if you fall into that category that you’ll understand that we want to vaccinate the most vulnerable people first. So if you’re a healthy 50-year-old, thank you for bearing with us while we vaccinate people who might be more vulnerable to flu.”
To find out more about why you might be asked to wait, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/flu-vaccination-why-you-are-being-asked-to-wait
If you have a high temperature, new, continuous cough or a loss of taste and smell, then please do not visit your GP practice or pharmacy. Please self-isolate and contact 119 or visit NHS.uk/coronavirus to book a coronavirus test.
If you test positive for coronavirus then please do not attend a flu clinic – contact them to rearrange your appointment.
Notes to editors
Each year the vaccination is free for people most ‘at risk’ of having severe flu:
- anyone aged 65 and over
- pregnant women
- children and adults aged 6 months to 65 years with an underlying health condition (such as long-term heart or respiratory disease, weakened immune system or have a learning disability)
- children aged 2 and 3 on 31 August 2020
- children in primary school
- people living in long stay residential care homes
- frontline health or social care workers
And this year it has also been expanded to include the following groups of people too:
- people living with someone who’s at high risk from coronavirus (on the NHS shielded patient list)
- children in year 7 (secondary school)
- If you’re aged 50 to 64 and have a health condition that means you’re more at risk from flu, you should get your flu vaccine as soon as possible
- Other 50- to 64-year-olds will be contacted about a flu vaccine later
Unsure whether to have your flu vaccine? We hope the below Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) will help.
What is flu?
Flu is an unpleasant disease that spreads quickly and easily through coughing and sneezing. Flu can also give you headaches, a sore throat, fever, chills, and muscle and joint aches. Those people who are at risk, either because of their age or medical conditions, may develop complications such as chest infections and pneumonia.
Why get the vaccine?
The vaccine provides the best available protection against flu. It is not 100% but it will protect a significant number of people and reduce the severity of flu if you get it. It could also help your relatives or carers because you will not be passing the disease to them.
I’ve heard that the vaccination can give you flu. Is that true?
No; the flu vaccine that is given to adults is made from dead flu virus and cannot cause the infection. The flu vaccine that will be given to most children is a live vaccine, but the viruses in it have been weakened so they can not cause flu. You may get some side effects after the vaccination but these are quite mild like a slightly raised temperature or aching muscles for a couple of days or an ache in the arm where the injection was given. Other reactions are very rare.
Will the flu vaccine protect me against coronavirus?
Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against coronavirus. However, the flu vaccination has many other important benefits. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalisation and death.
I think I have coronavirus symptoms – should I still come in for a vaccination?
The symptoms of coronavirus are:
- A new continuous cough
- A high temperature
- A loss of taste and/or smell
If you have any of these symptoms then you should stay at home and self-isolate and attend only when you have recovered or tested negative for coronavirus.