The Health Secretary has urged people to get their flu jab and Covid-19 booster shot to “give themselves and their loves ones the best possible protection in the months ahead”.
Sajid Javid said he had “done his bit” after having his flu vaccination at a pharmacy in central London.
It comes as the NHS rolls out its biggest ever flu jab campaign amid fears that if the viral infection is left unchecked this winter then thousands of lives could be lost.
Mr Javid said: “Alongside the Covid-19 booster jabs, we are rolling out the biggest flu programme in our history, with a record 35 million people in England eligible for a free flu jab to keep them safe this winter.
“I’ve done my bit by getting my flu vaccine, and it’s vital that all those who are eligible come forward for both their flu and Covid-19 booster vaccines, to give themselves and their loved ones the best possible protection in the months ahead.”
The Government has launched the biggest flu programme in the NHS’s history, with more than 35 million people in England eligible for a free vaccination.
Covid booster jabs are also being rolled out, with around 28 million people in England eligible.
As the weather gets cooler, experts are urging people to take up the offer of a flu and/or Covid booster when the NHS contacts them, and not to delay having either jab.
Last winter, there were very few hospital admissions for flu as people practised social distancing, but the health service is braced for a big surge in the coming months due to a lack of population immunity, people meeting more indoors, and cooler temperatures helping the virus spread.
💉 Have you had your flu jab? It's the best way to boost your immunity this winter.
👍 If you're one of our staff or volunteers, you can book your jab at one of our clinics or with a peer vaccinator.
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— Sussex Community NHS (@nhs_scft) October 12, 2021
A report in the summer from the Academy of Medical Sciences assessed how the triple threat of coronavirus, flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) might affect the NHS this winter.
It found that hospital admissions and deaths from flu and RSV could be more than double those seen in a normal year, leading to as many as 60,000 flu deaths and 40,000 children in hospital with RSV.
More than 80% of people aged 65 and over had a flu jab last year – exceeding a global target of 75%. The NHS has set an ambition to reach at least 85% of this group this flu season.
It also hopes to reach at least 75% of those with underlying health conditions, such as asthma and heart disease, at least 75% of pregnant women and at least 70% of eligible children.
All frontline health and social care workers will also be offered a flu jab, with an ambition that at least 85% will accept.
Those not eligible for a free flu jab can make an appointment for a paid-for dose at pharmacies.