This year, 30 million people in the UK will be offered free flu shots to ease the pressure on the NHS
The government plans to double its winter flu vaccination program to 30 million people this year, with free injections for all over-50s and children up to age 11.
Last year, about 15 million people were injected with seasonal flu, but ministers hope it will reach 30 million this winter.
Experts are concerned about the impact of a double blow from Covid-19 cases and seasonal flu that may overwhelm the NHS.
There are also concerns that people may suffer from seasonal flu and Covid-19 at the same time.
So the Department of Health and Social Care hopes that an increase in the number of people who receive flu vaccines means fewer flu patients will take up space in hospitals and the NHS will have more time to interact with coronavirus patients.
The injection is usually offered to people over 65, preschool and primary school children and pregnant women or people with health problems such as asthma.
As part of an unprecedented drive, a free flu vaccine will also be available this year to:
- People on the Shielded Patient List and members of their household;
- All school year groups up to and including year 7;
- People over 65, pregnant women, people with pre-existing conditions, including a risk under 2 years old.
The government aims to double its winter flu vaccination program in England to 30 million people, with free injections for people aged 50 and over and children aged 11 (stock photo)
Once vaccination of the most ‘high-risk’ groups is in full swing, the department will work with clinicians to decide when the program will open to invite people aged 50-64, and further details will be announced.
The NHS contacts people directly, including information about where to go to get the vaccine.
Currently, the free NHS flu program is for people 65 and older, pregnant women, those with certain conditions such as kidney disease, asthma or heart disease, and caregivers or people in care homes.
Health workers in the front line and social care are also eligible for the flu vaccine.
The flu shot is also free for children older than six months with a long-term health condition, children aged two and three, and primary school children.
RESULTS OF OXFORD UNIVERSITY VACCINE ‘PROMISE’
The results of the first phase of clinical trials with the Oxford vaccine were published Tuesday in the British medical journal, The Lancet.
They revealed that the Covid-19 vaccine was given to 543 people out of a group of 1,077.
The other half received a meningitis injection so that their reactions could be compared and scientists could be sure that the effects of the coronavirus injection were not random.
Researchers wanted to know if the vaccine boosted either of two types of immunity: antibodies, disease-fighting substances; and T cell immunity, where T cells can produce antibodies and attack viruses themselves.
The vaccine produced “ strong ” responses on both accounts, the study found.
It was found that the T cell response targeting the spike protein that appears on the outside of the coronavirus was ‘significantly increased’ in people who had the shot in tests of 43 of the participants. These reactions peaked at 14 days and then declined for the trial endpoint at 56 days.
In contrast, antibody immunity peaked at four weeks and remained high at day 56, the point at which the last measurement was taken, meaning it may persist even longer.
After 28 days, up to 100 percent of a group of 35 people still had a strong enough “neutralizing” immune response to destroy the virus, researchers found.
A neutralizing response means that the immune system can destroy the virus and not infect the body.
The researchers couldn’t test this on more people because they didn’t have enough time, they explained.
Scientists had to wait a month after vaccinating people, and many of them in late May. And Sir Mene Pangalos, a vice president of research and development at AstraZeneca, said the tests used were “ very laborious, ” so the team was unable to get more data for the newspaper in time.
Sir Mene added that the researchers were “moving towards a two-dose strategy” because it seemed to produce the strongest immune response.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, “It is critical that we do everything we can to get ready for winter, and the Prime Minister has already announced £ 3 billion to protect the NHS.
“We are now taking another important step to help protect the general public by giving the flu vaccination to more people than ever before. This will be the largest flu vaccination program in history and will help protect our NHS as we head into winter.
“If you qualify for a free vaccine, be it for the first time or because you usually get one, I would urge you to get it, not only to protect yourself, but also to the NHS and protect your loved ones from the flu. ‘
Professor Martin Marshall, president of the Royal College of GPs, called the extension of the vaccination program “sensible.”
He said: “It is likely that Covid-19 will pose challenges in running the flu program – we will have to take measures to ensure that all patients are safe when they come to get their vaccination, and we will have to insure people, especially at risk groups, are confident.
If a COVID-19 vaccination is available for use, that should also be taken into account. The College has developed GP practice guidelines to support them in efficiently and safely conducting massive vaccination programs, while COVID-19 remains a threat. ”
This announcement comes along with the £ 3 billion for the NHS announced by the Prime Minister earlier this month to ease winter pressure on emergency and emergency care in the event of a second spike in infections.
Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty said, “Flu can have serious consequences and vulnerable people can die from it. Having the vaccine protects you and helps reduce transmission to others.
“This winter, with COVID-19 still circulating, we need to help reduce all avoidable risks more than ever. Vaccination of more people reduces flu transmission and prevents people from getting sick. ‘
Dr. Vanessa Saliba, head of flu at Public Health England said, “The flu vaccine is the best defense we have against what can be a serious and even deadly disease.
This winter, more people than ever are being offered a free flu vaccine. We urge everyone who is eligible to accept the offer of vaccination. Getting the shot can help protect yourself, your family, and the NHS – it will help save lives. ‘
Dr. Nikki Kanani, NHS primary care doctor and medical director, said, “ Getting a free NHS flu vaccination is a quick and easy way for people to help save lives and ease the pressure on our hardworking frontline workers this winter.
“GPs, nurses, community pharmacists, and others will do everything they can to give this vital protection to millions more people in a safe and easy way this year, so when the time comes, I’d like to invite everyone to get a flu shot to get it as soon as possible. ‘
Not all GP practices have enough refrigerator space to accept all the doses of the vaccine they need.
However, it is intended that all eligible individuals have had their Christmas vaccine.
The government hopes that NHS and aid workers will see it as their professional responsibility to get the flu shot, but has not ruled out that it will be made mandatory in the coming years.
During the winter 2019/2020 flu season, 72.4 percent of people ages 65 and older had their injections in England, as did 44.9 percent of those in at-risk groups from six months to 64 years of age.
In total, 74.3 percent of primary health workers had an injection.
The admission rate is much lower for the emergency workers.