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Winter flu immunisation programme set to be ‘substantially expanded’



This year’s winter flu immunisation programme is expected to be ‘substantially expanded’, NHS England has said.

NHS England said the Department of Health and Social Care would be making a decision ‘shortly’ on the issue but said it was likely an expanded programme would go ahead.

In addition, a school immunisation ‘catch-up programme’ is expected, said NHS England.

The plans were revealed in a letter from NHS England to GP practices, CCGs and other health services bosses earlier this week, which outlined the second phase of the NHS response to Covid-19.

The letter, sent on 29 April, stressed that in the short term, over the next six weeks providers and commissioners must ‘maintain good vaccine uptake and coverage of immunisations’.

It added: ‘It is also likely that the autumn/winter flu immunisation programme will be substantially expanded this year, subject to DHSC decision shortly.’

The letter also highlighted that NHS England expected a ‘school immunisation “catch-up programme” ’, but no further details were provided.

Since 2013, flu vaccination has been offered to children in a phased roll-out and in 2019/20 all primary school age children in England became eligible.

It meant that all children aged two to ten on 31 August 2019 could receive the vaccine.

Other groups eligible for the vaccine are people aged six months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups, pregnant women, people aged 65 years and over, residents of long-stay residential care homes, carers and people who are close contacts of immunocompromised individuals.

Vaccination is also already recommended for frontline health and social care workers.

In 2019/20’s flu season, GPs were asked to help deliver vaccinations to children who were unable to receive the vaccine in school as expected due to delays in the supply of nasal sprays.

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