Free flu vaccine now available for all 50-64 year olds and all health and social care workers
29th January 2024
With the most vulnerable groups having been prioritised, the current influenza vaccination programme is now being extended to include everyone aged 50 to 64 years old. The Public Health Agency (PHA) is urging everyone in eligible groups to come forward for vaccination to maximise their protection against the virus, including all health and social care workers.
The call comes as flu activity continues to increase. Getting vaccinated will help protect more people from flu and help to relieve possible further pressure on the health service over the coming weeks.
Dr Louise Herron, Deputy Director of Public Health at the PHA, said: “Although overall influenza levels remain low at present, we are seeing increased activity so it is essential that we don’t become complacent. The flu virus hasn’t gone away, and we must all continue to take steps to prevent catching and spreading it.
“This season’s flu vaccination programme is now being extended to include everyone aged between 50 and 64 years old, and we are also encouraging all health and social care workers to come forward for their flu vaccine. While the flu vaccine won’t protect you from COVID-19, it may stop you from getting both illnesses together which can increase the risk of severe illness and could put additional strain on health and social care services.”
Those aged 50-64 years old and health and social care workers can receive the flu vaccine via their GP, community pharmacy or local HSC Trust clinics. This year’s vaccine is also still available to older age groups and those eligible for health reasons, as previously advised.
The flu vaccine does not give you the flu. It is offered as the best protection. It is free, quick and it could make a big difference to your health and the health of those close to you.
The influenza virus spreads through droplets when people cough and sneeze.
Dr Herron continued: “We should all continue to take common sense steps to reduce the spread of flu, COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses by exercising good respiratory and hand hygiene and staying away from others if we have symptoms.”
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water.
- When sneezing, blowing your nose or coughing – catch it, by using a tissue; bin it, by throwing the tissue in the bin; and kill it, by washing your hands afterwards to kill the germs.
- If you have symptoms of a cold, flu or COVID-19, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people until your symptoms have resolved fully.
- If eligible, receiving the seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect yourself and others from getting the virus. If you have questions about the vaccine, talk to your healthcare provider and make an informed decision.
So, if you are eligible for either the flu vaccine, COVID-19 vaccine or both, take up the offer to help protect yourself and those around you this winter. Find out who is eligible at www.nidirect.gov.uk/wintervaccines