The UK health secretary has revealed that the UK is set to launch the biggest flu jab campaign ever seen in an effort to beat the winter disease.
Sajid Javid said this afternoon that Brits should be cautious as autumn and winter are favorable conditions for COVID-19 and other viruses.
Addressing MPs in the Commons, he said: “The best step we can take is to get the COVID-19 and flu vaccines if we are eligible.
“And so with the COVID-19 vaccination programme, the next few months will see the largest flu vaccination campaign this country has ever seen.”
Mr Javid also laid out a five-pronged strategy to keep the virus at bay as the NHS enters its seasonal boom.
This includes a vaccine booster blitz, test and trace, pumping millions into the NHS, a flu jab campaign and putting in place strong border controls.
He said that the government is making progress on the road to recovery after the Covid pandemic and highlighted that the number of deaths currently being witnessed in the country is ‘lower than in previous waves’.
Mr Javid expressed his concern for COVID infection and other respiratory viruses and said that with children returning to school, changing weather and more people spending time indoors would be the norm for the virus.
To tackle the infection, he said that both flu jabs and booster jabs need to be started.
So far 48.4 million Britons have received their first dose of a COVID vaccine, with 44 million receiving a second dose.
The jabs have been proven to reduce your risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19 and Mr. Javid also said that 99 per cent of the Covid deaths currently being recorded are in people who do not have the vaccine.
“The NHS is preparing to give a booster dose from next week. The NHS will contact you and this will help protect the most vulnerable during the winter months,” he said.
worth the vaccine
This winter, due to diseases like flu and norovirus, demand on the NHS will also increase, he said.
“We are carefully but cautiously bringing the country back to normal life and together we will protect the progress made,” he said.
Mr Javid said the flu is a ‘significant risk’ this year as there was not much around last year as Covid dominated.
He explained: “There is very little natural immunity in our communities and the flu vaccine itself, the flu vaccines being deployed not only in the UK but across Europe, have lower-than-usual efficacy but are still effective.
“It is still a very worthwhile vaccine and so we will try to maximize that.
“As I said, this is the largest rollout program and communications program this country has ever seen for a flu vaccine.”
England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam also warned of a “bumpy” winter.
At a Downing Street press conference, he said the vaccines have been “incredibly successful” and have so far prevented an estimated 24 million COVID-19 cases and 112,000 deaths.
“But we also know that this pandemic is still active. We have not moved beyond the pandemic, we are still in an active phase.
“We know this winter can be quite bumpy at times and we know that other respiratory viruses like flu and RSV are highly likely to make their return.”
Dr June Raine, chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), has said that coronavirus booster jabs can be given to people over the age of 50 with flu jabs.
She told the Downing Street Briefing: “Reviewed data showed that giving booster jabs at the same time as the flu vaccine is safe and does not affect a person’s immune response.
“Therefore, the COVID-19 booster dose can be given at the same time as the flu vaccine.
“We have a comprehensive safety strategy in place to monitor the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines, and this monitoring includes booster jabs.”
winter is coming
News of the rollout of the flu program came as Vaccines Minister Nadim Zahvi confirmed today that there are “contingency plans” to roll back restrictions if necessary.
But he also expressed confidence that the booster jab program and massive flu vaccination campaign would prevent another lockdown.
Asked about the possibility of more restrictions, Mr Jahvi said today: “Lockdown will absolutely be the last resort.
“We’re about to start a massive booster campaign and of course a flu vaccination program.”
He continued: “I’m worried about the flu. We haven’t had much flu anywhere in the world and in a bad year we could lose 25,000 people to the flu.
“The important thing to remember is that, as we start into the winter months, viruses have an inherent advantage, whether it’s the flu or the COVID virus.
“It would be foolish to think that this thing has already transitioned from epidemic to endemic.”
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