18 Sep 2020
Covid-19 and the flu pandemic has been dominating our lives since March of this year. As I write this article there is no vaccine ready that can be administered to protect against this particular type of strain.
However, the government is embarking on what would be the biggest immunisation programme in British history, by offering the regular annual flu jab to more or less half of the population – 30 million people, in a three-month autumn window!
Who normally gets the flu jab?
Healthcare workers & carers
Those aged over 65
Children aged 2 & 10
Those with chronic illness: asthma, diabetes, heart conditions to name a few…
Those in long-stay residential care homes
Anyone in close contact with immunocompromised individuals
In addition to the above groups, who will be offered the jab in 2020?
Those aged between 50-64
Anyone that is shielding (and those they live with)
Children aged 11 & 12 (essentially those in the first year of secondary school)
How will it happen?
There are over 7500 GP surgeries in England, who will be responsible for giving the flu vaccine to their registered patients.
It’s a practise that normally takes place from October, but if the vaccines are manufactured and ready, it may start as early as September to get through the volume of patients, ensuring they are vaccinated before the flu seasons really gets rolling.
*Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are considering drawing up similar plans.
It won’t be as easy as normal with lots of patients all visiting the surgery on set days, with appointments just minutes apart. It may very well be that the jabs are administered outside, whilst maintaining social distancing and wearing PPE!
Why is it happening?
Regular flu and Covid-19 share many of the same symptoms. If people are vaccinated against regular flu, it will be easier to spot patients that likely have Covid-19.
There are also concerns that if someone had regular flu, and then got Covid-19, that they would really struggle with the illness as their immune system would be overwhelmed.
A bad flu season on top of coronavirus could overwhelm the NHS and care homes as well as the staff that function within them.
Flu & Covid-19 share many of the same symptoms:
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