Over 50s in Wales to be offered a Covid booster and flu jab before the end of the year
Health Minister Eluned Morgan has confirmed a Covid booster jab and flu vaccine will be offered to everyone eligible in Wales by the end of the year.
Both COVID-19 and flu vaccinations will be available for everyone who is 50 and over following the latest JCVI advice.
This is a change from its previous guidance which recommended that those older than 65 be offered the vaccinations.
It comes after the committee considered the spread of the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, as well as the benefits of combining the booster rollout with the flu vaccine rollout.
Experts hope expanding the offer will provide necessary protection to those at higher risk of severe illness and keep greater numbers of people out of hospital.
The autumn booster will also be available to residents and staff working in care homes for older adults, frontline health and social care workers, those aged 5 to 49 years in clinical risk groups, including pregnant women and household contacts of people with immunosuppression or carers aged 16 – 49.
From September, the flu vaccine will again be available to all those at risk, including adults aged 50 and over, children between the ages of 2 and 15, frontline health and social care staff, including those working in care homes and people aged 6 months to 49 years in a clinical risk group.
Everyone eligible will be offered the Covid booster by the end of November and the flu vaccine by the end of December.
Eluned Morgan said: “We are once again seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases and increased pressure on our NHS. We expect both COVID-19 and flu to circulate widely this winter and must be prepared for much higher or unseasonal flu activity.
“Vaccination is a vital tool for us all to protect ourselves and others as we learn how to live with COVID-19. This strategy sets out our plans for autumn-winter 2022-2023 and how we will offer both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines to those eligible, while being prepared to increase our capacity quickly, should we need to, in response to any future significant coronavirus pandemic wave or a new variant
“I want to maximise the uptake of both flu and COVID-19 vaccines for everyone who is eligible, and we will continue to work to ensure no-one is left behind. Getting vaccinated when you are invited is a decision we can all take to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities,
“I encourage everyone to take up their appointments this autumn to protect yourselves and keep Wales safe.”
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at UKHSA, said: “Widening the eligibility for the flu vaccine will help reduce the number of people getting seriously ill and ease pressures on the NHS, particularly during the busy winter period.
“It is also important that everyone eligible for the Covid-19 booster gets the jab when invited, including pregnant women, who are among those at higher risk.
“Having Covid-19 during pregnancy can lead to complications.
“Getting the vaccine, including a booster, offers the best possible protection for you and your baby.”
Since the start of the booster programme in Wales, two million doses have been administered.
Overall, 85% of adults aged 75 and over and almost 84% of care home residents took up the offer of the spring booster.
All eligible groups are being encouraged to take up the autumn vaccine when it is offered even if they have had a spring booster, as long as it has been at least three months since their last vaccination.
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