The annual flu vaccination programme is once again being expanded to protect the vulnerable and ease winter pressures as Covid-19 pressures continue.
The programme is to be extended to cover all secondary school children from years 8 to year 12. In addition, those aged 50 to 64 will also be eligible to receive the jab
again this year.
The vaccination programme officially begins on 1 October 2021 however it is expected that GP’s will commence vaccinations later this month once
they have received their initial orders.
Health Minister Robin Swann said: “Last year saw the roll out of the largest HSC influenza vaccination programme ever, which led to the best vaccine uptake rates ever achieved. I would like to extend our thanks to all those involved for their hard work during very challenging times.
“Also as a result of non-pharmaceutical interventions in place for COVID-19 (such as mask-wearing, physical and social distancing, and restricted international travel) influenza activity levels were extremely low globally in 2020 to 2021.”
The Minister concluded: “I do not underestimate the challenges involved in delivering the flu programme to tens of thousands of children and adults over a short period, while ensuring public health measures and social distancing advice is adhered to, but it is essential that we achieve as high an uptake rate as possible.”
The extension of the flu vaccination programme follows the recent announcement of the roll out of the covid booster vaccine as Trust mobile teams will being visiting all residential care homes to vaccinate residents and staff and Trusts will also begin to vaccinate frontline health and social care staff.
By early October it is expected GPs will start to invite their oldest patients in to receive their booster dose as they pass the six month mark from receiving their second dose, while community pharmacies start by offering vaccination to non-Trust employed frontline staff such as Domiciliary Care workers etc.