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The UK has secured more than 30 million doses of flu vaccine ahead of the country’s biggest vaccination programme, Helen Whately has announced. The Care Minister confirmed that eligibility for the NHS free jab will be expanded in order to combat the combination of flu and coronavirus in the winter months and relieve pressure from the healthcare system. However, Sky News host Stephen Dixon pointed out that the Government’s hoard could make it harder for those not able to access the free dose to buy their normal vaccination.
He asked: “Because of the increased stock being used by the Government in free vaccinations, what about those people who normally buy one every winter. will they still be able to get the flu vaccination?”
Ms Whately responded: “What I can talk about is the Government’s programme here, and the fact that we are making sure that more than half of the population in England will be able to get a vaccination.
“That is what the scientific guidance is, that is the thing that will make the real difference for us being ready and able to be prepared as best we possibly can before the winter.
“Those who most need a vaccine will be covered by this programme.”
Mr Dixon shot back: “So you don’t know, is the the answer.”
The MP denied this, saying: “The answer I can give you is that the Government has made sure we will be able to vaccinate the 30 million people who are most at risk in the event of getting flu.
“Those are people we know where it is absolutely essential that they should have access to the vaccine.
“We will encourage people to come forward and take up the opportunity to have the vaccine.”
The Health Minister revealed that all care workers and health workers will get the free flu jab as part of the programme.
Over 50s, Year 7 pupils and those who have been shielding will also have access in order to avoid overwhelming the NHS in the case of a second spike.
The free seasonal flu vaccination was previously for people aged 65 and over, pregnant women, people with certain conditions such as kidney disease, asthma or heart disease and carers or those in care homes.
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There are fears that entering into the winter months will produce another rise in positive coronavirus infections in the population.
Scientists on Independent SAGE have also repeatedly warned that the easing of lockdown restrictions risks a second wave.
Prime Minsiter Boris Johnson has assured that “all sorts of measures” are being kept in “reserve” as tools to fight an increase in the R rate.
He confirmed that this included local, regional and national lockdowns.
It comes as the R rate has slightly increased across England, and nudged near one in London again.
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