(Source: BBC News)
Most people in England, about 30 million, are to be offered a free flu vaccine this year, the government says. It is to prepare for a winter that could see the annual flu season coincide with a surge in coronavirus. The NHS flu programme will add all over-50s, people shielding and those who live with them and children in their first year of secondary school.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wanted "everyone to have a flu jab in the run up to this winter". He said it was important to "protect the NHS in the winter months because we've still got Covid and the threat of a second spike of Covid, and its vital therefore to keep that pressure off the NHS by everybody getting a flu jab."
Flu, which can be deadly or need hospital treatment, poses additional threats during the pandemic:
- There is some evidence a double infection with coronavirus and flu is more deadly than either alone
- A big flu season combined with coronavirus could overwhelm hospitals
- If lots of NHS or care-home staff are sick with flu, then it may not be possible to respond to Covid-19 in the same way as during the peak in spring.
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