Boots has stopped taking bookings from under-65s who want the flu jab after stocks ran low following a record number of requests.
The company said more people than ever had been booking early to get their flu vaccinations, after a government campaign to get people vaccinated to reduce the pressure on the NHS as the country goes into a second wave of the coronavirus crisis.
Boots has paused new bookings for those under 65, though younger people who already have appointments can still attend them.
A Boots spokesperson said: “We have been closely monitoring our stock levels, and made the decision this weekend to pause taking new bookings for our private and NHS under-65s flu vaccination services. This is to make sure we can vaccinate the patients who have already booked their appointments with us.”
“We are still able to continue supporting the NHS over-65s flu vaccination service due to stock availability of the trivalent vaccination, which the NHS recommends for people aged 65 and over.”
It comes shortly after people were advised to get flu jabs to help protect against the “double danger” of flu and coronavirus. Having flu and Covid-19 together significantly increases your risk of death, government scientists said. They urged all those at risk of getting or transmitting flu to get the vaccine in the coming weeks and months.
Prof Yvonne Doyle, the medical director of Public Health England, said flu and other respiratory viruses would be circulating this winter. Flu kills between 4,000 and 22,000 people every year, with the death toll last year reaching 8,000.
“If you do think you have either flu or Covid stay at home and self-isolate that’s to protect yourself – you’d be feeling very miserable – but also to protect others,” said Doyle.
People have been commenting on social media about the restrictions. One person tweeted: “Been trying to get a flu jab for the under 65s. Nothing available at GP, pharmacies or Boots. No one knows when to expect stock. Lloyds Pharmacy online takes bookings but it costs, regardless of eligibility, and first appointment shown was 12th October. What’s going on?”
The government has bought a record number of flu vaccine doses, with 30,000,000 arriving in batches. GP letters calling older people and people with medical conditions for immunisation are expected to be sent out this week.