The annual flu letter describes the national flu immunisation programme
and outlines which groups are eligible for flu vaccination.
Groups eligible for influenza vaccination are based on the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). The programme aims to provide direct protection to those who are at higher risk of influenza associated morbidity and mortality and to reduce transmission to all age groups through the vaccination of children.
The 2 March 2022 letter confirmed that those eligible for the NHS influenza programme are the cohorts offered vaccine prior to the pandemic:
- all children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2022
- all primary school aged children (from reception to Year 6)
- those aged 6 months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups
- pregnant women
- those aged 65 years and over
- those in long-stay residential care homes
- close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
- frontline staff employed by the following types of social care providers without employer led occupational health schemes:
- a registered residential care or nursing home
- registered domiciliary care provider
- a voluntary managed hospice provider
- Direct Payment (personal budgets) or Personal Health Budgets, such as Personal Assistants
Cohorts that were eligible in the 2021 to 2022 season but that are not included in the cohorts for 2022 to 2023 are:
- those aged 50 to 64 years
- secondary school children in Years 7 to 11 (between 11 and 15 years of age on 31 August 2022)
We will continue to keep JCVI’s advice for the influenza vaccination programme under review, but for winter 2022 to 2023 those aged 50 to 64 years will not be offered a free influenza vaccine through the NHS. Whilst the extension of the schools programme to include all children up to year 11 has been recommended by the JCVI, to be introduced as far as it reasonably practical, this will not be taken forward over the 2022 to 2023 season.
All frontline health care workers, including both clinical and non-clinical staff who have contact with patients, should be offered the influenza vaccine to protect themselves and those they care for. This should be provided by their employer as part of the organisation’s policy to prevent the transmission of infection. Social care workers who are in direct contact with people who receive care and support services should also have the influenza vaccine provided by their employer. There are circumstances where frontline staff, employed by specific social care providers without access to employer led occupational health schemes (see above), can access the vaccine through the NHS free of charge.
The influenza chapter in ‘Immunisation against infectious disease’ (the ‘Green Book’), which is updated periodically, gives detailed descriptions of the groups outlined above and guidance for healthcare workers on administering the influenza vaccine.
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