More local people than ever will be offered the flu vaccine this winter to protect themselves and the NHS.

Currently those eligible for the free vaccination are people aged 65 and over, pregnant women, people with certain health conditions, carers and those in care homes, frontline health and social care workers, anyone living in a household with someone on the NHS shielded patient list, people living with someone who is at high risk from coronavirus, and those with a learning disability.

Those aged 50 to 64 who are not in one of these groups should be contacted about a flu vaccine later in the year. Visit the NHS flu vaccine page (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/) for a full list of eligible groups.

GP practices in Bury are finding innovative ways to protect their patients including some offering drive-through vaccinations for people who are shielding and for children aged between 2 and 4 so they can receive the vaccination without leaving the car.

The expansion of the flu vaccination programme, which is taking place across the country, has been introduced to both increase the number of people protected against flu and reduce the expected winter pressures on the NHS as it continues to deal with coronavirus.

Around 1.6 million people in Greater Manchester can now get a free flu vaccination, with approximately 670,000 more vaccinations being offered than during the last flu season.

Dr Jeffrey Schryer, local GP and chair of NHS Bury Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The flu can be really serious for some people. If you are eligible to receive the vaccination for free on the NHS, it’s really important to get protected as soon as you can.

“In light of coronavirus, our GP practices are working really hard to deliver the flu clinics in more innovative ways to take account of social distancing and keep everyone safe, including some offering drive-through clinics. Patients have welcomed these opportunities to get their vaccine while staying safe.

“It is vital that those who fall into a vulnerable category such as the over-65s, pregnant women or people with certain health conditions like asthma or heart disease get protected before winter. If you are eligible your GP practice will be in touch, so book or make an appointment with your local pharmacy as soon as you can.”

Bury’s director of public health Lesley Jones added: “It is extremely important that vulnerable groups get protected this flu season.

“Bury remains a high-risk area for coronavirus, and with winter approaching and the double threat of coronavirus and flu, it is vital that we do everything we can to protect vulnerable people from the flu to keep them and those around them safe.”

The Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership is also launching a selection of new flu vaccination services to make sure the most vulnerable are protected against flu.

The services aim to increase uptake of the vaccine among groups of people who historically have not received it in large numbers. These include homeless people and rough sleepers, and users of drug and alcohol services.

Flu vaccines are free for all eligible people from GPs and local pharmacies. Social distancing measures will be in place at vaccination appointments.

Those in an eligible group will have been, or will be, contacted by their GP practice advising them about the availability of the vaccine. If you have not been contacted or want to check if you are eligible, please contact your GP practice or local pharmacy.

ENDS

Date: 2 October 2020