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EASTBOURNE and Willingdon MP Caroline Ansell is urging local residents to get a flu jab this winter as the government rolls out the country’s biggest ever free vaccination programme for the virus.

Around 30 million people are now eligible for the jab including, for the first time, those aged 50 to 64 and Year 7 schoolchildren.

New research from Public Health England suggests that people who test positive for both flu and Covid-19 were more than twice as likely to die, compared to those with Covid-19 alone.

The research also found that those with co-infection of the two viruses were more at risk of severe illness.

“This is the biggest ever flu vaccination programme and it’s going to be much needed to help the NHS and care homes cope this winter as they battle the Covid pandemic,” said Caroline.

“I am asking everyone who is eligible to book this quick and simple way to protect our families and communities as soon as they can.

“The jab cannot ensure everyone does not become ill with flu but it does a great job of reducing the numbers and this is critical to easing that pressure on the NHS and, according to the latest research, it will save lives too if it stops patients getting flu and covid together.”

Caroline said she would be having the vaccination and paying for it. She urged those not eligible for the free jab to consider paying for it, if they can afford to do so.

“It seems the average price for a flu jab is around the £15 mark. I understand this is a lot of money to some people but I do think it will be money well spent to protect our families, the vulnerable and our work colleagues,” she added.

Others eligible for the vaccination include pregnant women, all primary school children, two and three-year-olds, those aged 65 or older and people on the NHS shielded patient list.

Some health and social care workers and those with long-term health conditions are also included in the free programme

The newly eligible 50 to 64 category will receive their jabs later in the season.