Last reviewed 28 July 2020

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said shielded patients and their households will now be eligible for this year's free flu vaccination, as well all those aged 50-64 (those aged over 65 are already eligible).

As part of a staggered delivery later in the season, the Government announced the expanded cohort for this year's flu vaccination programme, which is set to target 30 million patients.

As part of the cohort the free vaccine will be extended to people who are on the shielded patient list and members of their household, as well as all school year groups up to Year Seven.

Also eligible are pregnant women and those with pre-existing conditions including at-risk children under two years old.

No details have so far been given about the form of payment for GPs administering the vaccines, supply issues or what stage of the year it will be delivered to patients between 50 and 64. The DHSC confirmed that it will work with clinicians to decide when to invite those aged between 50 and 64 to take part in the programme once vaccination of the most "at-risk" groups is underway.

This makes up a "significant new group" who will be eligible for the free flu vaccine.

The DHSC stated that the NHS will contact people directly, including with information about where to go to get the vaccine.

The announcement came as the Government said it had secured a "central stock" of flu vaccines in preparation for the additional groups added to the cohort who are eligible for free vaccines, as well as an anticipated increase in uptake. Information on how to access the additional central stock will be provided in September. In the first instance, though, GPs should use the locally-procured stock already ordered to deliver the programme.

GPs will not be able to co-administer Covid-19 and flu jabs due to safety concerns, the deputy chief medical officer for England has said.

Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) Medical Adviser Professor Jonathan Van-Tam recently told MPs that although he is optimistic that some Covid-19 vaccine will be available before Christmas, it was unlikely it could be co-administered at the same time as the flu vaccinations.