Eligible people in Devon could be ‘double jabbed’ with Covid booster and flu jabs simultaneously from next month, under plans being drawn up by health chiefs.
Steve Brown, the county’s director of public health, said that while the logistics of the proposals were still being worked on, ‘ideally it would make sense to have them together’, writes Local Democracy Reporter Ollie Heptinstall.
“The hope and aspiration is we make it as convenient as possible for individuals. How and where we do that is something which will come out in the fullness of time,” said Mr Brown.
He added that the plan also depended on having sufficient supplies of both vaccines at the same time.
The Government plans to give Covid booster jabs, subject to final scientific approval, to the most vulnerable groups from September.
It has also been recommended that the annual flu vaccines are given at the same time to maximise uptake and make them easier to deliver.
People who were in the original one-to-nine priority groups to get their first and second doses will again be first in line.
The first likely to be offered a dose include over-70s, those deemed clinically extremely vulnerable, in care homes and frontline health and social care workers.
The second group, according to interim advice to the Government, is likely to be over-50s, people eligible for a flu jab and/or at greater risk from Covid, along with adults who live with someone who is extremely vulnerable.
Mr Brown urged people to have their flu jabs as soon as possible, even if not at the same time as their Covid booster, to avoid a ‘double whammy’ of hospitalisations this winter.
He said: “I would hope that we see an increase in the number of people coming forward for their seasonal flu jab and we see the numbers similar to the Covid vaccine, which are in the 80s to 90s per cent.
“That really helped protect individuals, not just from covid, but also from flu.
“It’s easy to forget about seasonal flu. If we go back to pre-Covid pandemic, we were seeing people hospitalised and people dying with seasonal flu.”
People eligible for jabs will be invited in due course.
Last week Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed the Government is planning to start the booster programme.
“We are waiting for the final advice from JCVI, that’s our group of independent clinical advisers, and when we get that advice we will be able to start the booster programme, but I anticipate it will begin in early September, so I’m already making plans for that,” he said.