who is eligible and can you get both at the same time? – .

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This winter will see the biggest flu vaccination program in the history of the NHS, when millions of people are eligible for a covid callback jab.

People are urged to get both if offered, amid fears the two viruses, along with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), could push health services to a breaking point this winter, with deaths due flu to be much higher than average.

On average, around 11,000 people die each year in England from the flu, but there are fears that the death toll could rise to 60,000 due to a lack of exposure last winter due to social distancing .

Here we take a look at what you need to know about flu and Covid vaccines:

Who can get a free flu shot?

More than 35 million people can take advantage of the offer of a free flu vaccine this year in England.

People aged 50 and over, including those who will turn 50 by the end of March next year, will be able to get the flu shot.

In addition to this, people with certain health conditions, pregnant women, caregivers and people in long-term residential care, those who live with someone more likely to contract infections, and front-line health workers. health or social services are also eligible.


Dr Sarah Jarvis explains why there will be uptake of flu vaccine this winter


And what about Covid booster jabs?

Some 28 million people in England are eligible for a booster, with around 1.7 million people having already received a third injection.

Those who may have a recall include all people aged 50 and over, frontline health and social service workers, and people aged 16 to 49 with an underlying health condition exposing them. at a greater risk of Covid-19.

Boosters will be given to people at least six months after their second coronavirus injection.

Can the jabs be administered at the same time?

In some parts of the country, people could be offered the Covid vaccine in one arm and the flu shot in the other on the same day, although this is not available everywhere.

Why is this the largest influenza vaccination program in NHS history?

With closures and social distancing last winter, few people got the flu, so there isn’t as much natural immunity as there usually would be.

The flu spread this winter could be larger than usual, making it a “significant public health problem” as it can be fatal, according to England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van- Tam.

He warned the public of the need to take the fact that we are facing a winter of co-circulating Covid-19 and influenza “seriously”.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England.

So what can we do to help ourselves?

Professor Van-Tam said we must “stand up for ourselves and the NHS by getting the annual flu shot and the Covid-19 booster when called”.

He said: “These two viruses are serious: they can both spread easily, cause hospitalization and they can both be fatal.

“It’s really important that people get vaccinated as soon as possible. “

What if you don’t qualify for a free flu shot?

It is possible to make an appointment and pay for a dose at the pharmacy.

Professor Neil Ferguson

What are the predictions for the severity of the situation this winter?

Earlier this week, Professor Neil Ferguson, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said the UK did not have much ‘leeway’ for the increase in Covid-19 cases before the NHS became “highly stressed”.

A summer report from the Academy of Medical Sciences assessed the triple threat of coronavirus, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and found that hospitalizations and deaths from influenza and RSV could be more than double those seen in a normal year, leading to up to 60,000 influenza deaths and 40,000 hospitalized children with RSV.

What are the hopes for adoption of the flu vaccine this year?

The NHS has set itself the goal of reaching at least 85% of people aged 65 and over.

It also hopes to reach at least 75% of people with underlying health conditions, such as asthma and heart disease, at least 75% of pregnant women and at least 70% of eligible children.

It is hoped that at least 85% of frontline health and social service workers will accept a flu shot this year.

More than 80% of people aged 65 and over received their flu shot last year, exceeding the global target of 75%. The NHS has set an ambition to reach at least 85% of that group this flu season.

It also hopes to reach at least 75% of people with underlying health conditions, such as asthma and heart disease, at least 75% of pregnant women and at least 70% of eligible children.

People not eligible for a free influenza vaccine can make an appointment for a paid dose at a pharmacy.

All frontline health and social workers will also be offered a flu shot, with an ambition that at least 85% will accept.


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What about the rest of the UK?

In Wales, influenza vaccine coverage, which includes all people over 50 and high school students aged 7 to 11, will expand to more than 1.5 million people.

The Welsh government is targeting 75% of high school students to receive the flu shot and 80% of those aged 65 and over.

In Scotland, an estimated four million people – nearly three-quarters of the population – have been eligible for the flu shot since September.

Eligible groups there have been expanded to include teachers, prison staff and inmates, NHS contractors and those working in the Covid-19 testing program.

In September, Northern Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Michael McBride, said the circulation of Covid-19 and seasonal influenza and other respiratory viruses this winter “will inevitably put additional strain on our health services “.

It is estimated that 900,000 people will receive a coronavirus booster vaccine in Northern Ireland, and Professor McBride said: ‘Most of this group will also be eligible for the annual flu shot and we urge them to also respond to this invitation. “


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