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NHS to offer free flu jabs to all over-50s from December

Anyone aged 50 or over will be able to get a free flu jab from their GP or pharmacist from Tuesday 1 December, in a bid to combat the "twin threats" of flu and coronavirus this winter.

Usually, only those aged 65 or over can get a free flu jab, along with young children and those of any age who meet certain criteria – see below for a full list.

But from Tuesday 1 December, free flu vaccinations will be available for 50 to 64-year-olds more widely. You can get your jab from your GP or pharmacy, and everyone who qualifies is being urged to take their free vaccination. 

This is part of the roll-out of a wider flu vaccination programme this year – and anyone who already qualified for a free jab can still get one. The Government says there is enough supply of the flu vaccine to vaccinate 30 million people this flu season. 

See our Cheap & Free Prescriptions guide for more ways to cut the cost of prescriptions, medicines and the flu jab. 

Who can get a free flu jab?

A number of people qualify for a free NHS flu jab, including the following:

  • Those aged 65 or over, including those who'll be 65 by 31 March 2021
  • Those who are pregnant
  • Those with certain medical conditions (the NHS has a full list)
  • Those living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facilities
  • Those who receive a carer's allowance or who are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person
  • Front-line health and social care workers
  • Children aged two or three on 31 August 2020
  • Children over the age of six months with a long-term health condition
  • All primary school-aged children (reception to year six)
This year, the list was expanded to include: 
  • Those who live with someone at high risk from coronavirus
  • All year seven children (those aged 11 and 12) in secondary school

And now this year's list has been extended even further to include: 

  • Those aged 50 to 64, but only from Tuesday 1 December onwards

How can I get my free flu jab?

To get a free NHS flu jab, contact your GP surgery or a pharmacy offering the service.

The Government says GPs, NHS trusts and pharmacists can order extra stock to vaccinate the new group of eligible 50 to 64-year-olds.

But be aware that there has been huge demand for the flu vaccine this year, and depending on where you live you may need to wait for stock to become available. If that's the case, your surgery or pharmacy should get in touch when it's able to offer you one.

I still don't qualify for a free jab – can I still get one?

If you're under 50 and don't fall into another category that qualifies you for a free NHS flu vaccine, it is still possible to get one elsewhere – but you'll likely have to pay for it.  

Of course there's a question over whether you should get a jab if you're not vulnerable, and Public Health England and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society have told us that surgeries and pharmacies are prioritising those who are eligible for a free NHS flu jab. 

But given the Government says there's no shortage of flu vaccines it's ultimately up to individual pharmacies and surgeries to ensure jabs are given to those who need them most. 

If you do want to try to get a vaccine, there are different options: 

  • First, check if your employer offers it for free. It's worth checking if you can get the jab at work – many employers are giving vouchers to use at pharmacies this year. These schemes are typically open to everybody, but may be run on a first come, first served basis, so make sure you sign up promptly.

  • If that's not an option, you can pay from £8 for a jab elsewhere. If you can't get one for free from the NHS or through your employer, you'll need to pay if you want one.

    You can often get a flu jab privately at your GP surgery, but prices vary and we've seen costs of up to £40 for adult vaccinations. It can be significantly cheaper from major supermarkets and pharmacies, generally costing about £8 to £14 – there's full info on where they're available in our Cheap & Free Prescriptions guide. 

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