Millions of Brits won't be eligible for a flu jab this winter after major ... trends now
Millions of Brits given a free flu jab last year won't be eligible this autumn, officials have announced.
Invites won't be dished out to everyone aged 50 to 64, marking a U-turn on rollouts carried out during Covid.
Top experts today called the move short-sighted and warned it could see the NHS overwhelmed in the event of a major flu outbreak.
UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) bosses previously said the programme, which kicks off in September, would revert back to pre-pandemic recommendations.
Officials have ruled offering jabs to the extra age group — thought to cover around 12million people — wouldn't be cost-effective.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) confirmed that the over-65s would be eligible for the vaccine from September 1
Under this year's flu vaccination drive, the blanket age-cut off will be 65.
Younger Brits with underlying medical conditions that leave them at risk of getting seriously ill are still eligible, however.
Pregnant women, care home residents, NHS and social care workers and any close contacts of immunocompromised people are also still on the list.
Children aged two or three and primary pupils can get jabbed, while health chiefs are considering whether secondary school students should be eligible after they were offered the jab in recent rollouts.
Britons ineligible for a free flu vaccine, or unable to get one, will still be able to buy one from a pharmacy.
The list of those eligible was confirmed in a letter from Dr Thomas Waite, England's deputy chief medical officer, Dr Mary Ramsay, director of public health programmes at the UKHSA and Steve Russell, NHS England's director for vaccinations.
The below groups will be eligible for a flu vaccine from 1 September 2023:those aged 65 years and over those aged 6 months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups pregnant women all children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2023 primary school aged children (from Reception to Year 6) those in long-stay residential care homes carers in receipt of carer's allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person close contacts of immunocompromised individuals frontline workers in a social care setting without an employer led occupational health scheme including those working for a registered residential care or nursing home, registered domiciliary care providers, voluntary managed hospice providers and those that are employed by those who receive direct payments (personal budgets) or Personal Health budgets, such as Personal Assistants
It said flu jabs are 'critically important' for limiting severe illness, hospitalisations and death in the autumn and winter months, when the health service and social care are already under strain.
Since the pandemic began, flu jab rollouts have been 'ambitious and challenging' as the jab was offered to 'as many eligible people as possible', the letter stated.
It said the programme will protect those most at risk of severe complications due to flu, such as older people, pregnant women and those with underlying conditions.
The parameters of the flu jab rollout are guided by advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
In their statement on the rollout, the JCVI noted that it is bound by the Government's requirement for it to consider