Uptake for the flu jab “needs to improve”, according to official documents.
Officials are planning to vaccinate more people than ever in the coming flu season.
The list of people who qualify for a free flu jab on the NHS has been expanded to reduce seasonal flu pressures hitting the health service at the same time as a possible second peak of coronavirus cases.
Documents released before the flu season begins state “vaccine uptake for all clinical risk groups needs to improve”.
Public Health England documents show for a number of years only around half of patients aged six months to under 65 in clinical risk groups have been vaccinated.
But it is hoped this year at least 75% of those deemed to be clinically at risk will get vaccinated.
Meanwhile, officials are aiming to get 100% of staff in health and care facilities vaccinated.
Last flu season, just under-three quarters of staff (74.3%) took up the offer to get a seasonal flu jab.
Overall, it has been anticipated 30 million people across the UK will be eligible for the flu jab this year.
Priority will be given to at-risk groups and for the first time those aged 50 to 65 also eligible for a free NHS jab this year.
Dr Raj Patel, GP and deputy medical for primary care for the NHS in England said: “Everyone who needs it should get their flu jab every year but this winter, as the NHS and the whole country continues to respond to the Covid-19 outbreak, getting crucial vaccines is all the more important.
“Flu can cause serious illness and can even be life-threatening, particularly for those with underlying conditions or who are most at-risk, like very young children, the elderly and pregnant women, so as a GP, later this year, I want everyone who can get it to reach out to their local surgery and get their flu jab.”
Those eligible for the free flu jab this year include:
– Children aged two to 11 on 31 August 2020
– Those seemed to be in “clinical risk groups” aged six months to under 65 years
– Pregnant women, including those who become pregnant during flu season
– Over 65s
– People living in long-stay residential care homes or other long-stay care facilities
– Household contacts of those on the NHS shielded patient list and immunocompromised individuals
– All frontline heath and social care workers
– People aged between 50 and 64 years may be offered a jab under the NHS flu vaccination programme following prioritisation of other eligible groups and subject to vaccine supply