Flu Vaccination Programme Extended To 50 To 64 Year Olds

The Public Health Agency (PHA) has announced that the influenza vaccination programme has now been extended to include everyone aged 50 to 64 years old.

The PHA is urging everyone in this category, and those in other eligible groups including all health and social care workers, to come forward now and take the opportunity to get vaccinated to help protect themselves and those around them.

The call comes as flu activity continues to increase. Getting vaccinated will help protect more people from flu and help to relieve possible further pressure on the health service over the coming weeks. Vaccination is available through GP surgeries, community pharmacies and local HSC Trust clinics, with further information on this available at www.nidirect.gov.uk/wintervaccines.

Dr Louise Herron, Deputy Director of Public Health at the PHA, said: "Although overall influenza levels remain low at present, we are seeing increased activity so it is essential that we don't become complacent. The flu virus hasn't gone away, and we must all continue to take steps to prevent catching and spreading it.

"This season's flu vaccination programme is now being extended to include everyone aged between 50 and 64 years old, and we are also encouraging all health and social care workers to come forward for their flu vaccine. While the flu vaccine won't protect you from COVID-19, it may stop you from getting both illnesses together which can increase the risk of severe illness and could put additional strain on health and social care services."

Those aged 50-64 years old and health and social care workers can receive the flu vaccine via their GP, community pharmacy or local HSC Trust clinics.

People who are eligible for vaccination should make themselves aware of their own GP surgery's, community pharmacist's or trust's vaccination arrangements.

This year's vaccine is also still available to older age groups and those eligible for health reasons, as previously advised.

The flu vaccine does not give you the flu. It is offered as the best protection. It is free, quick and it could make a big difference to your health and the health of those close to you.

The influenza virus spreads through droplets when people cough and sneeze.

Dr Herron continued: "We should all continue to take common sense steps to reduce the spread of flu, COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses by exercising good respiratory and hand hygiene and staying away from others if we have symptoms."

Top tips

• Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water.

• When sneezing, blowing your nose or coughing – catch it, by using a tissue; bin it, by throwing the tissue in the bin; and kill it, by washing your hands afterwards to kill the germs.

• If you have symptoms of a cold, flu or COVID-19, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people until your symptoms have resolved fully.

• If eligible, receiving the seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect yourself and others from getting the virus. If you have questions about the vaccine, talk to your healthcare provider and make an informed decision.

So, if you are eligible for either the flu vaccine, COVID-19 vaccine or both, take up the offer to help protect yourself and those around you this winter.  For more information on who is eligible and how to receive the vaccine, including links to details of trust vaccination clinics, visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/wintervaccines

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