People who can get free NHS flu jabs and how to get one

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has vowed to roll out the "biggest flu vaccination in history", but who's eligible for a jab?

Mr Hancock said planning was already under way for dealing with the expected surge in demand on the NHS due to seasonal pressures over winter, including flu.

Mr Hancock said it would be a "big task" to try and offer the huge sum of vaccines, and detail has been released about who is eligible.

Speaking at the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) virtual conference on Monday, Mr Hancock said that following the coronavirus outbreak he was expecting high demand for flu jabs over winter.

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But he said enough vaccine had already been procured for the "biggest flu vaccine programme in history", but added it would be a "big task".

Health Secretary Matt Hancock

"We all know that having had an incredibly hard six months the next big moment is as winter approaches," he said.

"We are currently planning in detail for winter. We are expecting high demand.

"We want the flu vaccine programme to be the biggest flu vaccine programme in history.

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"We have procured enough vaccine to be able to deliver on that, but then it's a big task."

Who can get an NHS flu jab?

Each year the NHS prepares for the flu and the unpredictability of it.

For most healthy people, flu is an unpleasant but usually self limiting disease with recovery generally within a week.

But for others it can lead to complications such as the lung infection known as pneumonia.

Currently the flu vaccine is free to those deemed most at risk, including those who are pregnant, over 65, carers and primary school children.

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There is, however, particular risk of catching flu for older people, the very young, those with underlying diseases and those who are immunosuppressed.

Earlier this month, Downing Street said ministers were trying to secure a "significant additional supply" of vaccines so the uptake in "at-risk" groups could be increased and more people could be made eligible for a free injection.

How do you get the vaccine?

The flu vaccine is usually offered for free to these groups by the NHS but you don't need to get it at a GP's surgery.

In past years, you could have your NHS flu vaccine at your GP surgery, a local pharmacy offering the service, or a midwifery service for those who are pregnant.

Some community pharmacies offer flu vaccination to adults (but not children) at risk of flu, including pregnant women, people aged 65 and over, people with long-term health conditions and carers.

If you have your flu vaccine at a pharmacy, you do not have to inform a GP. It's up to the pharmacist to do that.

You can find more information about getting the flu vaccine here.

When will a coronavirus vaccine be ready?

Many of the groups at risk from flu are also particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 such as the elderly, and those who are immunosupressed.

Governments around the world are desperate to find a vaccine for the virus, but trials are still ongoing.

Mr Hancock said the Government was also working on setting up a coronavirus vaccination programme, should a successful vaccine be found.

He said: "We are working hard on a combination of the Covid vaccination programme, should a vaccination work, and of course the biggest flu vaccination programme in history.

"We are working now on how a Covid vaccine roll-out would work."

Previously, Mr Hancock outlined some of the groups who could get a vaccine.

He said in June: "We will be guided by the clinical science and they recommend priority vaccination for two groups: frontline health and social care workers and those at increased risk of serious disease and death from coronavirus."

That would include the over-50s and those with heart and kidney disease, as well as other groups that might be vulnerable.

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