BRITS will have flu and Covid booster jabs given together as part of a drive to beat viruses this winter, Matt Hancock has said.
The Health Secretary said he was “worried” about the impact flu will have after a year of minimal cases.
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He said this winter to be “challenging”, adding that he hoped further lockdown restrictions would not be needed.
“We are worried about flu this winter because people’s natural immunity will be lower because we haven’t had any serious flu for 18 months now,” he told Times Radio.
“We had a difficult winter in 2019, we didn’t have flu at all really this last winter because of the restrictions that were in place for Covid, so it is something we are worried about.
“We are going to have a very significant flu vaccination drive this autumn – potentially at the same time, you might get your Covid booster jab and your flu jab at the same time, we are testing whether that can be done.
It comes as:
“We do need to make sure we protect the NHS this coming winter.
“We have got time to do the preparation for that now, though, and make sure we are as vaccinated as possible, because that is the way to keep people safe.”
On BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Hancock said there were no other communicable diseases last winter “in any serious size at all” other than Covid.
“Almost nobody has had flu now for 18 months in this country, obviously that’s a good thing, but it does mean that the flu vaccination programme this autumn will be even more important,” he said.
“Last year was the biggest ever because we wanted to protect against flu whilst we were in the grips of the Covid crisis.
“We are currently doing the work to see whether you can have the Covid booster shot and the flu jab at the same time and that will help to manage this this winter, but we do expect this winter to be challenging.”
Mr Hancock said he hoped there will not be further lockdowns in the cooler months, adding: “I hope that with the booster shot, we get that protection against Covid very, very high.”
He said the booster plus getting the flu jab to a “very, very wide proportion of people” would hopefully offer enough protection.
It comes after he revealed he’s “absolutely working on” plans to exempt double-jabbed sunseekers from quarantine.
The notoriously cautious health secretary said a scheme which allows the fully vaccinated to avoid having to self-isolate is “something I want to see”.
But he wouldn’t give any timeline for when it might come into force and warned the threat of new variants means “it is more difficult freeing up international travel”.
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His remarks come after Boris Johnson strongly hinted no new countries will be added to the green list when it’s reviewed at the end of the week.
All of the most popular European destinations including Spain, Portugal, France, and Greece are currently classed as amber.
That means people are advised not to go there on holidays, and anyone that does must do 10 days of quarantine on their return.
This post first appeared on Thesun.co.uk