Who is eligible for free flu jab? How to get your flu AND Covid booster vaccine in one go
The Covid vaccine booster scheme is due to start in the coming weeks, with the 81 percent of the UK population who have already had two jabs being offered a third. This will be offered to the oldest and most at risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms first and may be rolled out in the same sitting as the flu jab. Express.co.uk reveals who is eligible for a free flu jab this year and how you could get your flu jab and Covid booster at the same time.
Who is eligible for a free flu jab 2021?
The flu vaccine is offered every year on the NHS in the autumn or early winter before the flu starts spreading.
It’s very important to get the flu jab this year because, even if you don’t normally suffer badly with the flu, you’re more likely to be seriously ill if you catch it at the same time as Covid-19.
The NHS site explains that getting vaccinated against both flu and Covid-19 will protect you and those around you from both these serious illnesses.
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The flu vaccine is given free on the NHS to people who:
- are 50 and over (including those who’ll be 50 by 31 March 2022)
- have certain health conditions
- are pregnant
- are in long-stay residential care
- receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
- live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis)
- frontline health or social care workers
Those who are eligible for the flu vaccine on the NHS can get it at their GP surgery, a pharmacy offering the service, your midwifery if you’re pregnant, or at a hospital appointment.
Who is eligible for Covid booster vaccine?
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has announced the booster rollout will begin this month for the following groups of people:
- those living in residential care homes for older adults
- all adults aged 50 years or over
- frontline health and social care workers
- all those aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19
- adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals
The vaccine administered will be Pfizer, regardless of what jab you had for doses one and two.
However, the group said: “Alternatively, a half dose of the Moderna vaccine may be offered. Where mRNA vaccines cannot be offered, for example due to allergies, the AstraZeneca vaccine may be considered for those who received it previously.”
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How to get your flu jab and Covid booster in one sitting
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi has said the Covid booster would be “co-administered” with a flu jab where possible.
He said on BBC Radio 4 Today: “This is probably the last piece of jigsaw to allow us to transition this virus from pandemic to endemic and I hope by next year we’ll be in a position to deal with this virus with an annual inoculation programme as we do with flu,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.”
More details on how you can arrange this are expected to be announced in today’s press conference with Boris Johnson.
However, you’re likely to be called in by your doctor to attend both at the same time.
The JVCI has updated its advice on the COVID-19 vaccine booster programme, advising a booster vaccine dose to be offered no earlier than six months after the first vaccine course.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chair of COVID-19 Immunisation for the JCVI, said: “The UK’s COVID-19 vaccination programme has been hugely successful in protecting people against hospitalisation and death, and the main aim of the booster programme is to prolong that protection and reduce serious disease as we head towards the colder months.
“The JCVI is advising that a booster dose be offered to the more vulnerable, to maximise individual protection ahead of an unpredictable winter.
“Most of these people will also be eligible for the annual flu vaccine and we strongly advise them to take up this offer as well.”
The Pfizer-BioNTech should be given to everyone, regardless of which vaccine brand you were given for your first and second doses.
This decision was made based on the COV-BOOST trial which showed that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is well tolerated as a third dose and provides a strong booster response.
Another option is a half dose of the Moderna vaccine, but the AstraZeneca vaccine is the last resort and will only be considered for those who had allergies with the other vaccines.
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