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Flu jab: Are you eligible for a free vaccine? Where to get one

Sajid Javid confirms NHS will offer booster vaccines

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Government’s aim is to help prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed as the nights draw closer in. Annual flu season runs from October to March, with most cases of the viral infection occurring in the winter. This year, the flu jab will be offered to:

  • All children who are aged two and three on August 31, 2021
  • All children in primary school and all secondary school pupils under the age of 16 on August 31
  • Those aged six months to under 50 years in clinical risk groups
  • Pregnant women
  • Those aged 50 years and over
  • People in residential care
  • Unpaid carers
  • Close contacts of people with weakened immune systems
  • Health and care staff.

The flu vaccine will be offered via the GP surgery, local pharmacy, and schools.

In Scotland, the flu jab will also be offered to teachers, nursery teachers and support staff in close contact with students.

People who do not fall into these categories can still get a flu jab – for a price.

Some supermarkets and high street chemists will be offering flu vaccinations.

Why are more people eligible for the flu jab again this year?

Mathematical modelling indicates that the 2021 to 2022 influenza season in the UK could be up to 50 percent larger than normal.

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The Department of Health and Social Care continued: “Influenza vaccination is therefore an important priority this coming autumn.”

This is to “reduce morbidity and mortality associated with influenza”, and to “reduce hospitalisations during a time when the NHS and social care may also be managing winter outbreaks of COVID-19”.

The flu

The flu can make some people “seriously ill”, the experts at the NHS warned.

Symptoms of flu can suddenly appear, and may include:

  • A sudden high temperature of 38C or above
  • An aching body
  • Feeling tired or exhausted
  • A dry cough
  • A sore throat
  • A headache
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea or tummy pain
  • Feeling sick and being sick.

In less serious cases of the flu, you can treat the condition at home; this will involve getting plenty of rest and sleep, as well as:

  • Keeping warm
  • Taking painkillers
  • Drinking plenty of water.

The flu is incredibly infectious, meaning the virus can quickly spread to other people.

Flu germs are spread from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours.

To help reduce the risk of spreading the flu, you must:

  • Wash your hands often with warm water and soap
  • Use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
  • Bin used tissues as quickly as possible.

How well do flu vaccines work?

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) pointed out that recent studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of the viral infection by up to 60 percent.

Each year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) take stock of current circulating flu strains.

Utilising this information, scientists can then tweak the flu vaccine – as viruses are forever mutating.

Public Health England (PHE) explained: “Because the flu virus can change from year to year there is always a risk that the vaccine does not match the circulating virus.

“During the last 10 years, the vaccine has generally been a good match for the circulating strains.”

The flu vaccine is designed to provide protection throughout the current flu season.

If you’re eligible for a free flu vaccine, it’s advised to get your jab.

This is to help protect you in a time where coronavirus is still a threat.

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