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Winter Flu Vaccine extended to over 50s

Adults aged 50-64 years will be able to get their free flu vaccine in local community pharmacies as part of the next phase of the expanded flu vaccination programme.

Hundreds of community pharmacies across Northern Ireland will offer the free winter flu vaccination from Monday 11th January as part of a joint venture with General Practice.

Community Pharmacy NI, the representative body for all community pharmacies across Northern Ireland, is encouraging all those eligible to get vaccinated to minimise the spread of the seasonal flu, alleviate pressures across the health service and protect vulnerable people already susceptible to COVID-19.

This year community pharmacists have already administered the flu vaccine to over 14,000 health and social care workers, from both public and private healthcare settings through the Community Pharmacy Seasonal Influenza Vaccination (CPFV) service.

James McCaughan, Chair of Community Pharmacy NI said: “The positive news of the COVID-19 vaccine has only reinforced the importance of the flu vaccine in protecting and preventing severe illness and hospitalisation of the most vulnerable in our society. Community pharmacists across Northern Ireland welcome this new cohort of patients eligible for the flu vaccine programme and urge anyone who can access the vaccine to do so.

“The roll-out in winter 2020 of the Community Pharmacy Seasonal Influenza Vaccine has been extremely successful, helping to shield patients and health and social care workers from the winter flu, as well as easing mounting pressures within our health service. This in turn paved the way for this welcomed expansion of the service to those aged 50-64.

“The expansion of this service to include both health and social care staff, and now this wider age group shows the actions people are taking to stay well this winter and protect others. With community pharmacists working alongside our colleagues in General Practice, patients have more accessible and convenient locations to receive the vaccine which I know will be welcomed.

“The threat of COVID-19 has made the need for flu vaccination even more important, and we strongly advise all those eligible to contact your local pharmacist and get inoculated. It is not just your health you protect when you are vaccinated, it is those most vulnerable in our society and the health service that is already working beyond capacity.”

Community Pharmacist, Raymond Anderson said: “Our community pharmacy teams have been working hard to ensure all who need the flu vaccine receive it, and we are pleased to see the service be expanded.

“The flu is a debilitating virus which can leave you very unwell. It is not just a cold but has more severe symptoms that can leave people in need of medical attention. The flu vaccination is the best protection the health service can offer from the seasonal flu, and with the unpredictability of COVID-19, we would strongly encourage those eligible to come to see us in their local community pharmacy and get vaccinated.

“We see first-hand the impact that the flu can have on the vulnerable in our communities and this year we will need to protect them as much as possible by reducing the likelihood of spreading the winter flu, in addition to COVID-19. I encourage anyone who can receive the flu vaccine to do so.”