The government has announced that it will launch the ‘most comprehensive’ flu vaccination programme in UK history for winter 2021.

As part of the plans, healthcare providers will offer the flu vaccine to over 35 million people from September 2021, including all secondary school students up to year 11 for the first time ever.

The government, working with the NHS, is preparing to deliver the expanded flu vaccine programme alongside any booster programme for COVID-19 vaccine as part of its ‘wider autumn and winter planning’.

For the winter 2021 season, the flu vaccine will become available for:

  • all children aged two and three on 31 August 2021
  • all children in primary school and all children in school Years 7 to 11 in secondary school
  • those aged six months to under 50 years in clinical risk groups
  • pregnant women
  • those aged 50 years and over
  • unpaid carers
  • close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
  • frontline health and adult social care staff.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) previously published interim advice on who would be prioritised for a possible COVID-19 booster jab from September 2021.

The booster programme will be informed by the JCVI’s final advice, which is expected later this summer based ‘on the very latest scientific data’.

“Flu can be a serious illness and we want to build a wall of protection by immunising a record number of people. With the nation getting closer to normal life, we must learn to live with COVID-19 alongside other viruses and we’re offering the free flu jab to millions more people to help keep them safe this winter,” said Sajid Javid, Health and Social Care Secretary.

“The phenomenal scale of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is a clear demonstration of the positive impact vaccination can make and I encourage all those eligible to get their flu jab when called forward,” he added.