Expanded national winter flu programme to target 35 million people

20 July 2021

The Government has announced that the expanded 2021–22 national flu vaccination programme, due to start in September, will target 35 million people across the UK.

GP practices, pharmacies and school-based providers will deliver the free vaccines.

For the first time all secondary school pupils will be eligible for the flu vaccine, forming the significant expansion of the scheme. In 2020, the only extra students added to the programme were those in Year 7.

It builds on last year’s record flu vaccination programme, which saw 19 million people vaccinated, following a boost in the number of eligible groups.

People aged 50 to 64 will again be able to get the vaccine this winter, after they became eligible for the first time last year.

Also, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said people in clinical risk groups will be eligible, although it has not clarified if this includes the group of people prioritised for Covid-19 vaccinations due to their clinical risk in relation to Covid-19.

Those who will be offered the vaccine are 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; and frontline health and adult social care staff.

The Government said it is possible there will be higher levels of flu this winter, with more of the population susceptible due to the low levels last season.

The Government reiterated that it is preparing to deliver the expanded flu programme alongside a potential booster programme for Covid-19 vaccines this autumn and winter, although a final decision on whether the Covid-19 booster programme will go ahead will be made after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) issues its advice about this.