HIGH STREET pharmacy Boots has suspended its flu jab programme after receiving “unprecedented demand” for winter vaccines.
GPs and pharmacists are also reportedly having to limit appointments for the most vulnerable to flu.
Boots has also stopped taking appointments for anyone outside of the most at-risk group.
This includes people who may have previously been shielding fro coronavirus due to health conditions and those over the age of 65.
When trying to book an appointment online for a flu jab with Boots, a message is displayed informing customers that the company has had the suspend the service.
In a statement, Boots said: “This year, our customers have been more conscious than ever about protecting the health of themselves and their families, and protecting against flu has been front-of-mind for many of us.
“As a result, we have seen more people than ever booking early to get their flu vaccinations.”
It comes after the government had revealed its biggest ever flu vaccination programme.
The government had previously said it would offer 30 million free flu jabs in order to prevent a second wave of the coronavirus.
The winter flu is set to start circulating in weeks alongside the coronavirus.
Cases of the coronavirus have been rising in the UK and this alongside the flu could put further pressure on the NHS.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the flu vaccine is this year being offered to the over 50s, with the over 55s also receiving the jab in Scotland.
These people will receive the jab once it has been given to the over 65s, and people with underlying health conditions.
You can get the flu jab through the NHS via your local pharmacy or GP. To purchase the jab it costs around £14.
Throughout the winter months deliveries of the vaccine are set to continue and the Department of Health and social care said that this is “phased over autumn and winter”.
It said: “The priority is rightly given to those who are most at-risk with others being asked to wait until later in the year.”
You should be eligible if any of the following apply to you:
- You’re under 10 or over 65
- You’re pregnant
- You have heart or lung problems, including asthma
- You’re diabetic
- You have a chronic kidney or liver condition
- You have a long term neurological problem, including having had a stroke
- You have another illness
- You have a BMI (body mass index) over 40
- You are immunosuppressed or looking after someone who has immunosuppression
In 2020, the Government is extending the vaccination programme to include those aged 50 and over as well as 11 year olds.
Experts have now said that people need assurance that they will get a jab if they need one.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) told the BBC that other pharmacies have had to slow down the rate in which they are carrying out vaccinations.
Robbie Turner, RPS Director of Pharmacy, said: “This year many more people are anticipating receiving a flu vaccination and they need assurance that sufficient stocks are available.
“We will continue to talk with government on the supply of vaccines, and how pharmacists can support those who are most at risk.”
Doctors have also warned that people need to know the difference between a cold, flu and the coronavirus as winter approaches.
Chief medical officer at DoctorLink, Ben Littlewood-Hilson said older people really need to look after themselves during this period.
“It’s important to remember that a common cold is a coronavirus – just not Covid-19.
“Other strains of coronavirus are actually quite common, but they have milder symptoms.”
The symptoms of the coronavirus are similar to other respiratory illnesses.
However, with flu, symptoms are likely to come on much quicker.
The NHS states the signs of flu include:
- a sudden fever – a temperature of 38C or above
- an aching body
- feeling tired or exhausted
- a dry cough
- a sore throat
- a headache
- difficulty sleeping
- loss of appetite
- diarrhoea or tummy pain
- feeling sick or being sick