Brits Urged to Get Flu Jabs Early as Experts Warn of Looming Flu Season
September, UK: Boots has officially kicked off its winter flu jab roll out with the first appointments of the season, now available at almost 2,000 stores.
NHS leaders and scientists have predicted a peak in flu cases as early as October this year, compared to the usual December peak. Boots has seen high demand for its Winter Flu Jab Service to date with over 500,000 appointments already booked. Four in five (81%) bookings to date are by those entitled to a free NHS jab.
In response, Boots pharmacists are encouraging patients to book their vaccination as soon as possible. This season, Boots aims to administer over two million flu jabs in total and there are still over 1.5 million appointments available.
Bina Mehta, Pharmacist at Boots, said:
“Flu is an unpleasant virus that can make you feel really unwell, but you can help to protect yourself and your loved ones from flu with a vaccination. It typically takes between 10 and 14 days after having the flu jab for the body to develop enough antibodies to defend itself from the virus, so with a predicted early peak in flu cases I am encouraging all my patients to book their appointment as soon as possible.”
Boots will offer its Winter Flu Jab Service at almost 2,000 stores. To boost capacity, Boots has expanded the number of its stores that feature special vaccination hubs to over 200. The flu jab will be administered in consultation rooms at other stores. For the very first time, Boots pharmacists in England will be supported by nurses to deliver NHS flu vaccinations this year. Boots is also offering Covid-19 booster jabs in 50 stores nationwide to those who are eligible.
Boots offers flu jabs on behalf of the NHS and privately for those who are not eligible for a free NHS flu jab.* The free NHS flu jab is available to adults aged 65 and over now and to those who are 50 and over from mid-October. It is also available to other adults aged 18 and over with certain medical conditions or who fall into other eligible NHS groups such as carers. Privately, the Boots Winter Flu Jab Service costs £16.99.**
To help patients understand more about the flu vaccination and why it’s so important, Bina Mehta has shared answers to the top questions she gets from patients in the pharmacy about it.
1. How effective is the flu jab and how long until I’m fully protected?
“A flu jab is the best way to keep yourself and others protected from the virus this winter. Having the jab also reduces the risk of passing the virus onto others. After your jab, it usually takes around 10 to 14 days for you to be protected, so it’s best to book your vaccination as early as you can.”
2. Who is eligible for a free NHS jab?
“Anyone over the age of 50 is eligible for an NHS flu jab, as well as other eligibility criteria including those who are pregnant, those with certain medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease and and those people who are carers. Free NHS flu jabs are offered to those more at risk from complications from flu, so I would recommend that everyone eligible for it books an appointment as soon as possible.”
3. If I am not eligible, should I still get a flu jab?
“I would recommend getting a flu vaccine this year even if not eligible on the NHS. Getting your flu jab is the best way to keep you, and the people around you, protected from getting flu. Boots offers a private flu jab service for those who are not eligible on the NHS, but would still like to receive a flu jab.”
4. I had the flu jab last year, do I need to get it again?
“Flu virus strains can change from year to year, which means that last year’s jab may not protect you from this year’s main circulating strains. What’s more, protection provided by the flu jab decreases over time, so it’s important to get your flu jab every year.”
5. I’m eligible for a Covid-19 booster, do I need to book a flu jab too?
“Yes. A flu vaccination does not offer protection from Covid-19 and vice versa. If you are eligible for both, the flu jab and Covid-19 booster can be administered together during the same appointment subject to availability in some of our stores. You can check your eligibility for a Covid booster and NHS flu jab through the NHS website, or pop in store and speak to your local Pharmacist who can help advise on appropriate options for you.”
With around 85% of the population estimated to be within 10 minutes of a Boots store, it is an accessible and convenient option for patients who want a flu jab. For more information and to book a flu jab, visit boots.com/flu.
*Boots offers the free NHS (or other locally-funded) flu jab in most of our stores in England and Wales and some stores in Scotland and Northern Ireland, for customers who meet the NHS criteria. Boots’ private service is available in most stores across the UK for people aged 16+ and in selected stores for children aged 11 to 15. Injectable vaccine only.
**£21.99 in Jersey.