This year it is even more important that people who are most at risk of flu have their free vaccination and the local NHS is reassuring those eligible there is plenty of time for everyone to book and get their flu jab.
GP practices and pharmacies are receiving batches of the vaccine during the flu season, and flu vaccination clinics are scheduled to coincide with these deliveries. This does mean some may have to wait longer than they would wish to attend flu clinics.
In past flu seasons, many of those eligible for the NHS funded flu vaccine got their flu jab in specially arranged clinics at their local surgery, pharmacy, the workplace or in the community. The COVID-19 pandemic means these venues will not be able to be used in the same way as before, including limits on the amount of people attending each vaccination session to maintain social distancing. Unfortunately, this has an impact on the speed at which people can be vaccinated.
There are also several types of flu vaccines available, and those eligible will be offered one that is recommended for them based on age. This means some people will be offered a flu vaccine that is in stock while others, who need a different type of vaccine, may have to wait until their vaccine is delivered.
Overall, there is enough flu vaccine for everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated before the flu season starts, which is usually in December. The government is telling to GPs how to access further stocks of vaccine if theirs become depleted.
Allison Cannon, Chief Nurse Officer for Sussex, said: “Flu jabs save lives – we are urging everyone eligible for a free flu vaccine to book their flu jab.
“This year, early demand for flu vaccine has been higher than usual, and clinicians are prioritising those at most risk first. Even if you are in one of the groups eligible for the free flu vaccine, you may be asked to wait to have your flu vaccine. If you are eligible and haven’t been able to get your vaccination yet, there is stock and you will still be able to have it before flu season starts.”
People aged between 50 and 64 who are not in a clinical at-risk group may also be offered a free flu vaccination later in the year, providing there is enough vaccine available. This is to ensure that those who are most at risk are vaccinated first. Anyone of any age, including those between 50-64, who is a household member or a carer of a shielded patient, is eligible for the flu vaccination and should contact the GP practice they are registered with or their pharmacy to book an appointment.
For a full list of priority groups and other information about this year’s flu vaccine, visit www.nhs.uk and search for flu vaccine.