From Monday 11 January, people who are eligible, will be able to access the free seasonal flu vaccine at participating community pharmacies across Northern Ireland or at their GP practice.
The seasonal flu vaccination programme is being extended to include all individuals who will be aged 50-64 years by 31 March 2021.
The expanded vaccination role for community pharmacies was welcomed by the Health Minister Robin Swann: “Community pharmacies were included in the seasonal flu programme for the first time this year, successfully providing vaccines for over 15,000 health and social care workers. I am very pleased to see the extension of this service announced yesterday which will enable many more people to gain protection from seasonal flu.
“I would encourage those people aged 50-64 years who have not yet received their flu vaccine to make sure they are vaccinated as soon as possible to protect themselves from the potentially serious consequences of concurrent infection with influenza virus and SARS-CoV-2 virus and avoid pressure on the HSC.”
He added: “Community pharmacies will also be included in future plans for the Covid-19 vaccination programme, supporting the public health response to the pandemic.”
Cathy Harrison, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer said: “Throughout the Covid-19 crisis community pharmacy teams across Northern Ireland have risen to the challenge to maintain access to medicines and vital services for their patients and the public. They are also now a valued part of the team effort to vaccinate people against seasonal flu and the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”
Gerard Greene, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy NI said: “It is vitally important that members of the public in the 50-64 age bracket come forward to their local participating pharmacy for the flu vaccine to reduce pressures on the health service over the coming weeks. The risk of colliding influenza and Covid infections must be avoided and I would encourage members of the public to protect themselves, those around them and the health service by getting the flu vaccine from their pharmacy at the earliest opportunity.”
Joe Brogan, Head of Pharmacy and Medicines Management in the HSCB said: “If you are over 50, this year more than ever, get the flu jab not the flu. I’m delighted that local community pharmacies across Northern Ireland can provide easy access to the public for flu vaccination and would encourage everyone to consider this.”