Who the programme is being extended to
Vaccinations are continuing to be offered to those in priority groups (such as those with long term health conditions), but there is now some availability to offer it the vaccine to those aged 50 to 64 years old regardless of whether they have a long-term health condition.
Why the programme has been extended
The flu virus kills thousands of people every year and hospitalises tens of thousands more. The aim of the programme is to protect those most at risk from flu (such as older people, pregnant women and those with long term health conditions).
This winter, with COVID-19 in circulation, the programme is being extended to those aged 50 and over because this is the age at which hospitalisations for COVID-19 start to increase.
It is important to prevent flu in this group, to protect these people from serious illness and reduce hospitalisations from flu. Also, research shows that if you get both flu and COVID-19 at the same time you may be more seriously ill. So vaccination is especially important this winter.
What you should do
If you are aged 50 to 64 years old (including those who turn 50 by 31 March 2021) then during either December or January you can contact your GP surgery to check availability or you may contact any Pharmacy offering NHS flu vaccinations.
If you have a long-term health condition that puts you more at risk from flu, you are in one of the priority groups who should not delay getting the vaccine. See gov.uk to check the type of health conditions that this includes.
If you are aged 65 or over, or are aged 6 months to under 65 and in one of the Clinical "at risk" groups listed (click here) then you are strongly advised to have a flu vaccination.
Flu, short for influenza, is an infectious and common viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes.
It's not the same as the common cold. Flu is caused by a different group of viruses. Symptoms tend to be more severe and last longer.
You can catch flu all year round, but it is especially common in winter, which is why it is also known as "seasonal flu".