Every Brit could get flu jab to stop NHS being crippled this winter if they’re battling second-wave of coronavirus – The Sun
EVERY Brit should be given a flu jab to help stop the NHS being overwhelmed this winter, ministers have been told.
The idea is being mooted by government scientists who fear a second wave of Covid during the coldest months will overrun hospitals if it coincides with a major outbreak of seasonal flu.
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Flu kills 17,000 Brits a year and can take up to 50,000 ward beds in winter.
Government advisers have asked ministers to urgently look into vaccinating all age groups to try to protect the NHS from a double-whammy.
The recommendations were made after a Sage meeting last month, The Sun understands.
Currently, fewer than half of people in England are eligible for the free flu jab.
The nation’s top doctor has already warned the NHS would struggle to cope with a surge in coronavirus during its busiest time of year.
Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said it would be far more difficult to manage coronavirus when people had coughs and colds, as the symptoms were similar.
He said work was under way to see how it would spread in the coldest months — and find ways to combat it.
Prof Whitty added: “At this point in the year if someone’s got something that looks like Covid there’s a high chance it is Covid. In the winter, that is less true.”
Government scientists now want ministers to consider universal flu vaccination and Department of Health officials are urgently looking at the idea.
About 25million people in England are currently eligible. They include OAPs, pregnant women, young children and those with underlying medical conditions.
Professor Robert Dingwall, who sits on Nervtag, which feeds into Sage, said: “It would seem to be a sensible strategy and it also has benefits to the economy by reducing sickness absence, alongside the benefits of the NHS not having to treat a lot of people with influenza and Covid-19.”
The jab is also available privately from pharmacies and costs £12.99.
But Prof Dingwall, who has had no involvement in the plans, said the Government needed to decide in the next week — or risk facing supply problems.
He said it could cost £500million but that it would be a sound investment.
Nigel Edwards, chief executive of Nuffield Trust, said: “A big second wave of Covid coupled with bad flu would leave the NHS struggling. Vaccinating everyone against it would certainly help.”
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