New flu vaccination boost to manage winter pressures

NHS leaders have unveiled a new package of contingency actions to respond to pressures on frontline services this winter, including flu vaccination uptake.

NHS England, Public Health England, the Department of Health and NHS Improvement have created a new measure to provide free flu vaccines for hundreds of thousands of care home staff, at a cost of up to £10 million, alongside plans to increase the number of jabs for young children in schools and vulnerable people. NHS staff are already offered the vaccination for free to protect patients and the public.

Additionally, the health bodies are planning for the biggest expansion in training for A&E consultants ever with hundreds more doctors over the next four years and other healthcare staff, as well as the implementation of a new National Emergency Pressure Panel to provide independent clinical advice on system risk and an appropriate regional and national response.

Paul Cosford, Public Health England’s medical director, said: “This year we are offering the nasal spray vaccine to more children than ever. Ensuring children get vaccinated is extremely important not only to protect them from flu but also to stop then spreading it to vulnerable groups they come in to contact with. For someone with a long term health condition like asthma or COPD, flu has the potential to turn very serious. We want as many eligible people as possible to get their jab, as it is the best way to protect everyone from flu and minimise the burden on the NHS during the season when it faces the most pressures.”

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