Coronavirus cases are on the rise in the UK, with the NHS and Government preparing to cope with COVID-19 during the winter months. One way the NHS is hoping to reduce the pressure on its healthcare services is by increasing the number of people eligible for free flu jabs this year.
Does the flu jab protect against COVID-19?
The flu vaccine does not provide any protection against the COVID-19 virus, and vaccine trials for coronavirus are currently ongoing.
However, with the risk of a further wave of coronavirus cases possible later this year, the NHS will be extending its flu vaccine to people aged 50 to 64.
The flu vaccine is being offered to people within this age group to protect vulnerable people from flu, and to support the NHS through the winter.
Experts believe increasing flu vaccinations will help to reduce hospitalisations and pressure on the NHS as a result of flu this winter.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said earlier this year: "It's mission-critical that we pull out all the stops to get ready for winter, and the Prime Minister has already announced £3 billion to protect the NHS.
"We are now taking another important step to help protect the wider public by giving the flu vaccination to more people than ever before.
"This will be the biggest flu vaccination programme in history and will help protect our NHS as we head into winter.
"If you are eligible for a free vaccine, whether it's for the first time or because you usually receive one, then I would urge you to get it, not just to protect yourself, but to protect the NHS and your loved ones, from flu."
The NHS website states people aged 50 to 64 will be able to access more information on the flu vaccine later in the autumn.
However the NHS stress if you are aged 50 to 64 and in an at-risk group, you should not delay getting your flu vaccine.
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Boots announced this summer it had opened its flu vaccination booking system early, as unprecedented demand for the vaccine is expected this year.
Anne Higgins, Director of Pharmacy at Boots UK, said: "As COVID-19 continues to be present in the UK, it is more important than ever for people to consider getting their flu vaccination.
"Although the flu vaccination does not prevent COVID-19, both of these viruses have an impact on the respiratory system so if you can prevent flu, it can be a huge benefit to your overall health including your immune system.
"We also know that winter is a particularly busy time for GPs and hospitals so getting vaccinated early to protect against flu could help reduce the risk of the NHS becoming overwhelmed with both cases of flu and COVID-19."
Who should get the flu vaccine?
The NHS is offering the flu vaccine to the following people this year:adults 65 and overpeople with certain medical conditions (including children in at-risk groups from 6 months of age)pregnant womenpeople living with someone who's at high risk from coronavirus (on the NHS shielded patient list)children aged 2 and 3 on 31 August 2020children in primary schoolchildren in year 7 (secondary school)frontline health or social care workers
Further information is expected to follow on flu vaccinations for people aged 50 to 64.