The Government is calling on people to get their flu jab to maximise protection over Christmas.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the Government agency responsible for public health protection, is pushing for eligible people to have the vaccine by December 10 to allow it take full effect before the festive season.
The agency is particularly pushing for pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions to come forward but is also calling on people from a black Caribbean or black African background, following data which suggests they have had the lowest uptake of the vaccine.
While uptake among over-65s is above the World Health Organisation’s recommended threshold of 75%, the UKHSA is aiming to increase that number.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Getting your winter vaccines, whether that is your flu jab if eligible or your booster jab, is one of the most important things people can do for yourself an your family this winter.
“Record numbers of people took up the offer of a free flu vaccine last year and the programme is expanding even further this year, with a record 35 million people in England eligible.
“Don’t delay, book your flu vaccine as soon as possible.”
Dr Conall Watson, consultant epidemiologist at the UK Health Security Agency, said: “The threat of flu has not gone away, it can cause serious illness and be fatal.
“Flu vaccination saves lives.
“If you are eligible, you don’t have to wait to be called up, book your flu vaccine as soon as possible to help protect yourself and family this Christmas.”
The UKSA has stressed that people with underlying health conditions are 11 times more likely to die if they catch flu compared to healthy adults while pregnant women are also at increased risk of serious complications and should have the flu vaccine to help protect themselves and their babies.
Eligible adults can book their free NHS flu vaccination at their GP practice or local pharmacy.
Mums-to-be can also get the jab at their maternity service.
Children are offered a quick and painless nasal flu spray.
Parents can book an appointment at their child’s GP surgery for two and three-year-olds.
Schoolchildren receive their flu vaccine at school, parents are encouraged look out for the consent form.
The UKSA said frontline health and social care worker should be offered the flu vaccine through their employer or, for some staff groups, they are eligible to receive it through their GP or pharmacy.