People aged over 50 in England are being urged to get a flu jab, as ministers hope for a mass roll-out of a Covid-19 vaccine next year.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was “more important than ever” for people to get a flu jab to fight the “twin threats” of coronavirus and flu.
He said the NHS was preparing to roll out a Covid vaccine if one is approved.
It comes as 30m people are being offered a flu jab in England’s largest flu-immunisation scheme to date.
People aged 50 to 64 will be eligible for the vaccine from 1 December. Groups including NHS and social care workers and the over-65s are already entitled to it.
Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast that all over 50s would be able to get the vaccine by January.
He also said that Christmas wouldn’t be “fully normal” this year, adding “there will have to be rules, unfortunately, to keep the virus under control”.
He said ministers were still working out a set of rules across the UK’s four nations to allow Christmas “joy” in a way that also “keeps people safe” after No 10 said it would set out proposals to ease restrictions over Christmas next week.
BBC News – Covid-19: Flu jab push as Covid vaccine roll-out plannedhttps://t.co/QllfpeSuGZ— Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust Library Service (@Chelwestlibs) November 20, 2020
London’s Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has said the force has “no interest in interrupting family Christmas dinners” to catch Covid-19 rule breakers and will work with whatever government restrictions are in place at the time.
Mr Hancock added that while 2020 had been “such a difficult year” there were “promising signs” England’s current lockdown – which is expected to end on 2 December – was working to get cases under control.
“There are promising signs that we have seen a flattening of the number of cases since lockdown was brought in and that is good news, though clearly there is further to go,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
However Tory MP Steve Baker, deputy chair of the Covid Recovery Group – which was set up to oppose future national lockdowns – criticised Mr Hancock for “creating the impression this change was caused by the lockdown”.
He said: “Government scientists briefing MPs were clear this week that the effects of lockdown would not be visible in the data until this weekend. Cases may have flattened since lockdown but any change is not yet because of lockdown.
“This statement should be corrected by the health secretary immediately to avoid any damaging misunderstandings about the interpretation of data.”
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