Community pharmacies across Northern Ireland will provide free flu jabs to people over 50 as part of an expanded vaccination programme in the country.
People who are in the 50-64 age bracket by March 31 will be eligible for a vaccine alongside those who already receive one including pregnant women, people under 65 in clinical at-risk groups, children aged two to four and primary school pupils.
Frontline health and social care workers and contacts of people who are shielding are also eligible.
James McCaughan, chair of Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (pictured), said the “positive news of the Covid-19 vaccine has reinforced the importance of the flu vaccine” as pharmacies continue to play a central role “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,” he said.
“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.”