Last reviewed 8 July 2020

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has called for this year's flu vaccination programme to be extended to all over 50s to avoid the normal flu season overwhelming the NHS.

The college said the measure, which could be brought in if there is enough vaccine, should be among a number of actions taken to avoid "bringing the NHS to a grinding halt".

It also said flu vaccinations for all NHS and social care staff should be brought forward, aiming for a 100% uptake. The programme should include urgently reviewing expansion of the programme to all patients in the clinically extremely vulnerable group, as well as to institutional settings such as prisons, according to the college.

The RCP has called for the securing of additional batches of the flu vaccine to maximise availability.

Also, should a Covid-19 vaccine become available in time, it should be administered alongside the flu vaccination to "reach as many people as possible", according to the RCP.

The college is also demanding that the Government learn from previous shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing for NHS staff, so that it is fully prepared for a second peak, and recognise that health and social care are inextricably linked.

RCP Chair Professor Andrew Goddard said there was no time to waste in ensuring that the NHS and social care are prepared for the very real potential of future Covid-19 waves, as lockdown is now relaxing further for many.

He said staff across the NHS are nervous about what lies ahead and everything should be done to ensure that the system is ready to cope.