Welsh NHS to offer free flu jabs to all adults over 50 and under 16s this Autumn
The Welsh Government is set to offer free flu jabs to all over-50s and children up to age of 16 this autumn.
The decision comes following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which has warned of “much higher or unseasonal” flu activity this year.
The Scottish Government is also set to follow the advice, while the NHS in England announced last month that free flu jabs would be limited to the over-65s, pregnant women, children up to the age of 11 and younger people with serious health conditions.
Last winter the Welsh Government allocated close to £7million to support NHS Wales’ largest ever flu vaccination programme with more than 1.5 million people eligible for the jab, including under 16s and adults over 50.
Covid booster shots were also rolled out alongside flu jabs to those eligible.
Dr Frank Atherton, Welsh chief medical officer, has written to GPs warning: “We need to be prepared for higher levels of influenza activity and the possibility that it could be a more severe influenza year, with more of the population susceptible to influenza given the low levels in previous seasons.”
Dr Atherton also said high uptake of the flu vaccine was “vital” to reduce mortality and hospitalisations and protect the NHS and social care with the Covid virus also circulating.
According to The Telegraph, the decisions in Wales and Scotland could put pressure on the English NHS to follow suite, with one source telling the Telegraph “This is about spending but given that officials in Wales and Scotland have looked at the programme and decided it is cost-effective, there is no clear rationale for England to diverge.”
A Whitehall source told the newspaper the scaling back of the flu vaccination programme in England was part of “getting back to business as usual”.