Millions are being urged to get a flu jab this year, as research suggests coronavirus is much more likely to cause death when the person also has the flu. However many are struggling to get an appointment and confused over whether or not they qualify for a free vaccination. Here we answer all your burning questions. What is the flu jab? The vaccine is designed to protect you from catching the flu. However it is not a catch-all solution and there is a small chance you could still get it. The best time to get vaccinated is between September and early November. Do I qualify for a free NHS flu jab? Every year the Government offers free flu vaccinations via the NHS. This year it is aiming to give out up to 30 million free jabs because of concerns about the dangers of contracting both influenza and coronavirus. Free flu jabs in England will be rolled out to all over 50s from December 1st, Matt Hancock has confirmed. Anyone that is eligible for a flu jab should get one, he said. The NHS flu programme usually only covers the over-64s, pregnant women and people in care homes. Healthcare workers and carers, both professional and informal, are also eligible – as are people with certain health conditions including asthma, diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease. However this year it has been extended to include people aged 50 and over and those who are shielding for coronavirus, those who live with shielders. All primary school children and Year 7 children will be offered the flu nasal spray in schools. You can find the full list of who qualifies at nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/ Can I pay for one if I don't qualify? Yes and it can be relatively cheap to do so. Pharmacies at 255 Asda supermarkets offer the flu jab for about £8. Tesco also offers the vaccine at some of its shops for a price of £9. You can get it from pharmacies such as Superdrug and Lloyds for a little bit more: £12.99. Boots has stopped offering the jab due to low stock. Where and how can i book one? If you are eligible for a free jab you can get it done at your GP surgery or a pharmacy offering the NHS service. Pregnant women can get it via their midwifery service. Private vaccinations can be done in most major pharmacies. There may be limited availability due to high demand this year so make sure to book in advance. "Your GP will contact you, you don't need to call them," Mr Hancock said, thanking all GPs and pharmacists in the role that they will play in rolling out the flu jab at "record scale". You may also be able to get a free flu jab through your employer. Do they help fight coronavirus? The jab doesn’t necessarily help to fight coronavirus but research has shown that people who contract coronavirus while they have flu are twice as likely to die from it. It is particularly important to get vaccinated if you're at higher risk from coronavirus, because you will also be more at risk of getting seriously ill from the flu. This winter of all winters it's important to get the jab, Mr Hancock added, because catching flu and Covid together is "very dangerous". What are the side effects? There are few side effects and most are very mild. They could include having a slightly higher temperature than usual and a sore arm. You should not get the jab if you’ve had an allergic reaction to it before. If you’re ill with a high temperature, it’s best to wait until you’ve recovered before getting vaccinated. How else can I stay healthy? The skin typically produces Vitamin D after spending time in the sunlight; however, things are slightly different this year, as those at most risk are spending a significant amount of time inside whilst shielding from Covid-19. Officials suggest that everybody should consume ten micrograms of Vitamin D over the winter period. On November 28, health officials shared that over 2.5 million vulnerable people across England will be given free Vitamin D supplements to assist them through the winter months. Those in care homes and those who are categorised as clinically extremely vulnerable will be offered the vitamin, which is renewed for its bone and muscle health benefits. However, there is no evidence that vitamin D will protect against catching or treating the virus. Read more: how to prevent the flu
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