People in the East encouraged to get flu jab to protect against 'double threat' of flu and coronavirus

Public Health England is launching its biggest ever flu vaccination programme, with the aim of giving jabs to 30 million people. Credit: PA

People in the East of England are being encouraged to get a flu jab to help protect against the 'double threat' of flu and coronavirus. 

More people will be offered a free vaccine this year than ever before, including those over 50 and Year 7 students.

Research from Public Health England found risk of death is more than doubled for people who catch flu on top of coronavirus, compared to coronavirus alone.

Last year, 42.5% of people in at-risk groups, 41.7% of pregnant women; and 48% for 2-3 year olds got the flu jab.

Up to 30 million people in England are eligible for a flu jab this year, including:

  • All primary school children and, for the first time, Year 7 children will be offered the flu ‘nasal spray’ in schools to reduce community transmission. Two and three-year olds will be offered the vaccine through their GP.

  • 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.

  • The flu vaccine 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 50-64-year olds will be invited for vaccination later in the season. Anyone who is 50-64 years old with long-term health condition should be vaccinated earlier in the season, in line with all others in risk groups.

Flu by itself can also be a serious condition - it kills around 11,000 people in England each year and hospitalises many more.

“The flu vaccine is more important than ever, to help reduce transmission of flu and protect the nation from the double threat of flu and COVID-19", Dr Yvonne Doyle said.

"You may be offered it for the first time this year – it is important that you take up the offer to protect yourself and others.”

Officials hope it'll reduce the burden on the NHS during the winter.

People who are not eligible for a free jab could pay for one at pharmacies and supermarkets, although availability is limited currently while stocks are prioritised for those who need it the most.

Health Secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock said: “This year more than ever, it’s vital that those eligible for the flu jab get it this winter so you can protect yourself, your family and the NHS.

“We’re pulling out all the stops to prepare for this uniquely challenging winter and we have enough vaccines for 30 million people this year, more than we’ve ever done before.

“With the simultaneous risk of flu and Covid-19, make sure you get your flu jab if you’re eligible, don’t gather in groups larger than six and remember ‘Hands Face Space’ so we can look after each other.”