Crystal Palace FC's official charity and Croydon IKEA have announced a new project with NHS England to provide flu vaccines for Croydon residents during the autumn-winter period.

The partnership hopes to reduce the strain on NHS hospitals amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which is expected to accelerate rapidly in the coming days and weeks.

As such, CPFC and IKEA Croydon will host drive-thru flu vaccine clinics to help as many residents get protected against influenza as possible during the colder months when it is most prevalent.

The project was announced after the central government announced plans to "significantly expand" the number of people eligible for a flu jab, with around 190,000 people expected to be offered a vaccination in Croydon alone.

Your Local Guardian: Croydon IKEA will be hosting a drive-thru flu vaccine clinic in its car park. Croydon IKEA will be hosting a drive-thru flu vaccine clinic in its car park.

"This year will see the biggest vaccination programme the NHS has ever run, however it will only be successful if our residents and patients all do their part and get vaccinated," Dr Emily Symington, Croydon GP of the NHS South West London Clinical Commissioning Group, said.

"The NHS in Croydon has pulled out all the stops to make getting a flu jab easy and safe – not only working with GP practices and pharmacies, but private companies across Croydon, many offering their support at no cost.

"Getting a free NHS flu jab is a quick and simple way that people can help to save lives and I would urge anyone who is eligible to take up the offer to help protect themselves and their family and friends," she added.

Flu jabs for those who are eligible can be booked through the GP practices or local pharmacist, those who are eligible may also receive a letter or a phone call to remind them to book in for their flu jab, including information about where to go to get the vaccine.

Dr Gaj Sivadhas, chair of Croydon GP Collaborative, urged people to get the vaccine if they're eligible: “More than ever, the flu jab is vital to keep us fit and healthy and avoid spreading flu to our loved ones," he said.

"Croydon GP Practices are carefully planning to vaccinate all our eligible patients whilst making sure we can keep everyone safe.

"We are thrilled to be working with IKEA to use their underground car park and Palace for Life Foundation, the official charity of Crystal Palace FC, to provide flu clinics to give patients the flu vaccination in the safety and comfort of their own car.

"With the good transport links from the local tram stop, people are also able to attend this site by use of public transport, bikes or on foot.

“We strongly urge eligible Croydon patients to contact their GP practice to book an appointment at their practice or at another location to protect themselves, their family and our community."

Free flu vaccines (with an appointment) at the sites are be available to the following groups on the NHS:

• people aged over 65

• pregnant women

• people with some pre-existing conditions including those at-risk aged 2 - 64

• who are on the shielded patient list and members of their household

• Children aged two – three and all school year groups up to year seven

The flu vaccination is available every year on the NHS to help protect adults and children at risk from flu and its complications.

More information and appointment booking is available on the NHS website here