20/07/2020 18:25 BST

Every NHS Worker To Be Given Flu Jab This Winter, Matt Hancock Reveals

The government is gearing up for a significant flu vaccination programme to stop the NHS being overwhelmed if there is a winter spike in coronavirus.

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Every NHS worker will be given the flu vaccine to help the battle against coronavirus, the health secretary has said.

Matt Hancock said all health service staff will need to get a jab unless they have a “very good, essentially clinical reason” not to have one. 

The government is gearing up for a significant flu vaccination programme to stop the NHS being overwhelmed if there is a second spike in coronavirus infections in winter.

MORE: The Flu Vaccine Is ‘More Important Than Ever’ This Year – Here’s Why

Hancock also revealed that councils will, from Monday, finally be offered names and addresses of people who test positive for Covid-19 following demands from public health chiefs for better data to combat local outbreaks.

Looking to winter, the health secretary has already promised the “biggest flu vaccination programme in history” amid expectations of increased demand on the NHS.

Health secretary Matt Hancock delivers a statement on the government's actions on coronavirus in Commons

Currently those at risk categories are offered the flu vaccine free of charge, including over-65s, pregnant women, long-term care residents, carers at home, those with medical conditions.

Frontline health and social care workers are also eligible but it is up to employers to arrange and pay for it.  

Following “promising” results from a trial of Oxford university’s Covid-19 vaccine, Hancock told the Commons: “This isn’t just about the Covid vaccine, it’s about the flu vaccine too and we are moving to make sure that a far, far higher proportion of people in the NHS get the flu vaccine. 

“The expectation will be this winter that every single person who works in the NHS will get the flu vaccine unless you have a very good, essentially clinical reason.” 

Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth meanwhile warned that the gap between the number of people infected for coronavirus and those reached by contact tracers needs to be bridged.

And he said local lockdowns “could have possibly been avoided” had councils had access to the detailed data Hancock was making available from Monday.

He also welcomed the “encouraging and exciting” news about the Oxford vaccine trials and offered his support in tackling “poisonous anti-vax propaganda”.