Britain is launching its biggest ever flu vaccination campaign amid concerns that the low level of immunity to flu could lead to thousands of deaths this winter.
This will be the first winter that COVID-19 and flu will circulate fully at the same time and research shows those infected with both viruses are more than twice as likely to die as someone with COVID-19 alone, the BBC reported.
Health officials are worried that very low flu infection rates last winter mean immunity will be much lower as the country heads into the flu season.
A report from the Academy of Medical Sciences published in July found that deaths from flu could be as high as 60,000 this coming autumn and winter.
The government’s campaign, featuring TV medics Dr Amir Khan, Dr Dawn Harper and Dr Karan Ranj, will encourage those eligible to come forward for both the flu and COVID-19 boosters.
The flub jab will be offered to over 40 million people across the UK, including for the first time all secondary-school children up to the age of 16.
In addition, the over-50s and younger adults with health conditions are also being offered a COVID-19 booster jab.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, said: “This year we are rolling out the largest flu vaccine programme in our history, alongside the new COVID-19 booster vaccine rollout. Both are important to provide vital protection not only to yourself, but also your loved ones while also helping to ease pressure on the NHS.”
England’s deputy chief medical officer Prof Jonathan Van-Tam urged people to take the vaccines when offered. “Both these viruses are serious: they can both spread easily, cause hospitalisation and they can both be fatal,” he said.
Shares in GlaxoSmithKline PLC (LSE:GSK), which supplies flu vaccines, were 0.10% higher at 1,402.20p in afternoon trade.