NHS scraps free flu vaccines for millions of over-50s and children next winter


Flu jabs were extended to secondary school children and all people aged 50 to 64 this winter – but they’ll be removed again in 2022/23 as England emerges from Covid

Flu jabs are being scaled back for millions of teenagers and older people (stock photos)

Free flu vaccines for millions of over-50s and children will be scrapped next winter in England as the NHS goes back to pre-Covid rules.

Jabs were extended to people aged 50 to 64 and secondary school children in years 7 to 11 in 2021/22 as chiefs feared a major post-lockdown outbreak.

Covid data suggests England has nearly 6million people aged 50 to 64 who are not also in an at-risk group. They were also offered free jabs in 2020/21.

But in guidance issued this week on the NHS England website, officials say eligibility will be narrowed again in 2022/23.

The letter told NHS workers and pharmacies: “We would like to extend a huge thank you to all those involved for your hard work during very challenging times which led to some of the best flu vaccine uptake rates ever achieved.”







Eligibility will be narrowed again in 2022/23
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Image:

NurPhoto via Getty Images)

But Dr Leyla Hannbeck, the chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, told The Telegraph: “No one has communicated to the public that the offer of flu jabs this year is going to be any different to last year.

“Last year over-50s were being told they should get their jab, now the advice has changed, but no one is explaining why.

“It’s going to cause so much confusion.”

Those eligible in 2022/23 will be:

  • Those aged 65 and over
  • Children (over six months) and adults (under 65) in clinical risk groups
  • All children aged two to 10 on 31 August 2022
  • pregnant women
  • Care home residents
  • carers
  • Close contacts of immunocompromised people
  • Frontline health and social care workers (through employers).

The decision appears to go against the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI), according to minutes from December seen by the Telegraph.







Those aged 65 and over will still be eligible
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Image:

GettyImages)

According to the newspaper, the minutes said: “JCVI remained supportive of fully extending the childhood program on a routine basis which is highly cost effective”.

They added it would be “acceptable to vaccinate 50-64 year olds for the 2022/23 season if funding available”.

One source close to the rollout blamed financial reasons. He said: “Given that the next pandemic might be caused by the influenza virus it seems extremely reckless to cut the flu vaccine programme.”

Flu vaccination has been recommended for staff and vulnerable groups in the UK since the late 1960s.

Between 2015 to 2020 more than 11,000 people died per year with flu on average. In 2019/20, 86% of deaths were of people over the age of 65.

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www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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