29 September 2020
Islanders are being urged to protect themselves and others by getting the flu vaccination this year.
The annual flu vaccination programme, which launches today, is a joint initiative supported by the Minister for Health and Social Services, the Minister for Social Security, government departments and GP Surgeries and Pharmacists.
A high flu vaccine uptake will help improve the general respiratory health of islanders, which 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.
The programme has been redesigned as a result of COVID-19 in two important areas.
This year, 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 being funded through the Health Insurance Fund, as agreed by the Social Security Minister, Deputy Judy Martin.
This is to encourage uptake of the vaccination while we respond to the risk of the COVID-19 pandemic. The priority groups will be expanded to include an additional group, those aged 50-64, even if they have no other medical risk factors.
There will also be a scheduled approach to administering the vaccine starting with healthcare workers and high-risk Islanders with serious health conditions, followed by the over 65s and those at risk, as well as nursery and school children, and then later on the 50-64 age group.
This year the flu vaccine is free for islanders falling within the agreed priority groups, that is:
- if you are in a clinical risk group, as identified by your GP, pregnant, 65 or over or a care home resident you will be contacted by your GP with a view to vaccination through general practice or a pharmacy. Babies from 6 months to 2 years who are at risk are also included and will be vaccinated through general practice
- children aged 2-4 will be contacted by HCS for vaccination at nursery or in the GP surgery
- primary and secondary schoolchildren will be contacted by HCS for vaccination in schools
- other arrangements have been made for health care workers, including care home staff and home carers.
It is intended to vaccinate the above groups in October.
Those 50-64 year olds who do not fall within the ‘at risk’ groups will be contacted by their GPs with a view to vaccination in November via their GP or a pharmacy.
Deputy Medical Officer for Health, Dr Ivan Muscat said:
“The 50-64 years old group who are not ‘at risk’ are asked to please be patient with the GPs, nurses and pharmacists who are administering the vaccine. We have enough stock of the flu vaccine for the whole population of Jersey.
“Influenza can be unpredictable in its severity but if we keep respiratory illnesses under control and limit the spread of flu, it will assist with the prevention of severe coronavirus infections.
“The information to date is that we must leave 28 days between people having the flu vaccination and the COVID-19 vaccination (when the latter becomes available). So, it is vitally important to be vaccinated against the flu virus as quickly as possible.
“Alongside the influenza vaccination, Islanders need to maintain good respiratory hand and touch point hygiene. It’s essential that we all maintain physical distancing and wear masks where appropriate, as this will reduce the likelihood of spreading respiratory infections including COVID.”
Flu and COVID symptoms, although similar, do have notable differences. If anyone experiences a fever alongside a continuous cough and lack of taste and smell, they must isolate and call the Helpline on 445566.
For advice on flu, Islanders are advised to speak to their GP.