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Aug 2020
Pharmacies in Shropshire getting ready to offer flu jabs

The programme has been expanded this year in case the coronavirus pandemic continues into winter, with millions more being offered a free jab to ease pressure on healthcare services.

The MSN & Lunts Pharmacy Group has branches in Shrewsbury, Craven Arms and Pontesbury, as well as three more in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and the Black Country.

Helen Whitehouse, operations manager, says its pharmacies have offered free flu vaccinations to eligible customers for many years and this year it is "more important than ever".

"We have a large order of flu vaccinations scheduled for delivery from September 16," she said.

"Alongside this our staff have been working tirelessly and continuously from the beginning of the pandemic, including throughout lockdown, and are well aware of safety procedures that need to be put into place during this unprecedented time.

"This year the list of people eligible for a free flu vaccination is even bigger with the introduction of a second phase of 50-64 year olds entitled to a free jab.

"Alongside this, anybody who doesn't qualify for a free jab we can offer a private one for a small fee." She said staff had worked hard to make the pharmacies a safe and infection-controlled environment.

"We have screens up at the counters, all staff wear PPE and we only allow two customers in the shop at any one time," Helen said.

"The environment is sanitised frequently.

"We continue this process through to our consultation rooms which will be used for administering our flu vaccinations, making the environment as safe as possible for the purpose.

"We are still waiting on the guidance from our representative body on how we will provide the service, however, we are planning on an initial appointment process with the flexibility of a walk-in service providing the appropriate procedures are in place and it is safe to do so."

The flu vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to people who are at risk.

The group includes anyone who is 65 or over, pregnant and children in certain age groups or with long-term health conditions.

It is also available to anyone who has certain medical conditions, is a carer or who lives with someone who is on the NHS shielded patient list.

Later in the year, the flu vaccine may be given to 50 to 64-year-olds, however those in 'at-risk' groups are urged not to delay getting the flu jab.

Frontline health and social care workers are also eligible to receive the flu vaccine.

To find out if you are eligible for a free flu jab visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/who-should-have-flu-vaccine

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