Boots has said that a record number of people had pre-registered for its Winter Flu Jab Service, which opens today, as high levels of flu are predicted for this winter.

Since May, over 110,000 Boots UK customers registered to be the first to know when appointments were available and book their jab before bookings open to the public today, said the company. This is a 27% increase compared to last year’s pre-booking registrations for the same period last year.

The multiple’s chief pharmacist suggested the record demand could be because people are more familiar with vaccines since the Covid-19 pandemic and the higher levels of flu expected this year.

Boots is encouraging patients, especially those who are vulnerable, to book an appointment and get vaccinated against flu as early as possible. It is is offering appointments for flu jabs from September.

It carried out its largest flu vaccination programme on record last year and administered over two million vaccines from September 2021, with an aim to carry out the same number this year.

This follows guidance from the Government that this winter could see higher levels of influenza due to increased social activity, international travel and reduced use of face masks following the pandemic.

Marc Donovan, chief pharmacist at Boots UK, said: ‘My advice to people is to book your flu vaccination as early as possible, and make sure you and your loved ones are protected from flu ahead of the winter season when influenza is at its peak.’

The record demand comes after community pharmacy membership organisation Numark urged pharmacies to ‘do all they can to help clear much higher flu volumes than in previous years', as flu vaccinations will form ‘the backbone of the pharmacy winter service agenda’.

The free NHS flu jab is available in England and Northern Ireland to adults aged 65 and over, or those who will be turning 65 on or before 31 March 2023, and in Scotland, Wales and Isle of Man to adults aged 50 and over, or those who will be 50 by 31 March 2023.

It is also available to other adults aged 18 and over with certain medical conditions or who fall into other eligible NHS groups such as carers.