This year, when the whole world is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, we must make every effort to protect our health - and the health of those around us - by being vaccinated against the flu virus.
The annual flu vaccination programme, which launches today, is a joint initiative supported by myself – as Minister for Health and Social Services – the Minister for Social Security, government departments and GP Surgeries and Pharmacists.
A high uptake of the flu vaccine will help improve the general respiratory health of all islanders. This is particularly important this year, as it will:
- help guard against the unknown consequences of contracting flu and COVID at the same time
- reduce the pressure on the health service permitting the better delivery of care for all
- reduce the risk of transmission of asymptomatic COVID by people coughing and sneezing with flu symptoms, and
- help safeguard against confusion with COVID symptoms.
This year, the programme has been redesigned as a result of COVID-19 in two important areas.
First, Islanders will not be charged for the flu vaccination if they fall into a priority group. The normal £10 fee is being set aside for one year only due to the exceptional COVID-19 situation; the fee will be in place again next year. This is to encourage uptake of the vaccination while we respond to the risk of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Second, the priority groups will be expanded to include an additional group, those aged 50-64, even if they have no other medical risk factors. And more on that will come from our Deputy Medical Officer for Health.
So, today, we are urging everyone to be a good influence on their fellow Islanders by getting the flu vaccination. It will help to protect you and your loved ones at this crucial time.