All front-line health and social care workers will also be urged to get their free vaccine.
The “most comprehensive flu vaccination programme in the UK’s history” has been announced by the government today.
Healthcare professionals across England will work to vaccinate more than 30 million people during this flu season – millions more than received it last year.
Several new groups will be eligible for the free flu vaccine including those shielding, school children up to Year 7, patients aged over 65, pregnant women, and those with pre-existing conditions including at-risk under 2s.
Once vaccination of the most ‘at-risk’ groups is well underway, the department will work with clinicians to decide when to open the programme to invite people aged 50-64 – the NHS will contact people directly, including information about where to go to get the vaccine.
All front-line health and social care workers will also be urged to get their free vaccine to protect themselves and their patients or residents from the flu.
It comes as experts worry a combination of the seasonal flu and COVID-19 could overwhelm hospitals and cause a rise in the number of deaths.
Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty said: “Flu can have serious consequences and vulnerable people can die of it. Having the vaccine protects you, and helps reduce transmission to others.
“This winter more than ever, with COVID-19 still circulating, we need to help reduce all avoidable risks. Vaccinating more people will help reduce flu transmission and stop people becoming ill.”
Dr Vanessa Saliba, Head of Flu at PHE added; “The flu vaccine is the best defence we have against what can be a serious and even deadly illness.
“This winter, more people than ever will be offered a free flu vaccine. We are urging anyone who is eligible to take up the offer of vaccination. By getting the jab, you can help protect yourself, your family and the NHS – it will help save lives.”