Since March 2020 the UK has been hit by a global pandemic which has shifted the way we live our everyday lives and delivered some very unprecedented times. What most of us expected to be short lived, coronavirus is still lingering and cases are on the rise again. This leads us to question how we will be affected when flu season hits.
Healthcare professionals across the country are preparing for flu season 2020 as it could be extremely challenging and pressure will mount on the NHS but we need to know what to do in preparation for Winter. Reports are showing that the eligibility for flu jabs is being expanded this year to ease any pressure on our healthcare services after stats from January to April 2020 have shown that those with co-infection of the two viruses were more at risk of severe illness so this vaccine is needed now more than ever.
The highest number of vaccines available on record has been offered this year, at around 30 million people including primary school children and for the first time, year 7 students including also two and three year old children. The most vulnerable, including adults aged 65 and over, those with long-term health conditions and pregnant women, will be offered the flu vaccine first through their GP or pharmacy. It will also be offered to household contacts of people on the NHS Shielded Patient List and all health and all social care workers who have direct contact with the people they care for.
Once uptake has been maximised in the most at-risk groups, the newly eligible 50- to 64-year-olds will be invited for vaccination later in the season. Anyone who is 50 to 64 years old with long-term health conditions should be vaccinated earlier in the season, in line with all others in risk groups. To help increase uptake in the social care sector, for the first time, pharmacists will be able to vaccinate residents and care home staff at the same time. Employers of frontline health and social care workers also have a responsibility to ensure their staff can get the free vaccine.
From the above information it’s clear that if you’re eligible for a free vaccine you should definitely consider getting it, as it’s better to be safe! This year it seems the vaccine is more important than ever which is why healthcare professionals have taken the decision to offer more vaccines to those who need it across the UK.