The public does not need to get its flu jabs until December, Matt Hancock has said as health officials played down fears over shortages of vaccines.
The NHS roll-out of flu jabs is now under way, with priority given to pensioners and others with health conditions. Further roll-outs are promised for other groups in the coming months.
On Thursday, health officials said they were confident that there are sufficient vaccines for all those eligible, adding that there is little flu before December in four of five winters.
Mr Hancock, the Health Secretary, assured MPs that there are enough jabs for people in need of them.
Earlier this week, GPs urged those eligible for vaccinations to "sit tight" as they warned of "significant problems" in obtaining sufficient supplies.
It came after high street pharmacies, including Boots and Lloyds, suspended booking for flu jabs with demand vastly outstripping supply.
Ministers have promised "the biggest flu vaccination programme in history" in a bid to ensure that the NHS can cope if hit by a "double whammy" of flu and coronavirus this winter (the graphic below shows how the symptoms compare).
They pledged to expand the programme to half the population, with healthy over-50s offered a jab as well as pensioners, those with underlying health conditions and young children. However, the latest NHS England board papers only say that the scheme "may" be expanded to include 50 to 64-year-olds "if circumstances permit".
Health officials say the over-65s are being prioritised by the NHS, along with children and adults suffering from underlying health problems and insist there will be enough jabs to cover 30 million people including healthy adults aged 50 to 64.
Mr Hancock told the Commons: "There are enough flu jabs for everybody who needs them in a priority group.
"I would stress that this is a roll-out – nobody needs to have a flu jab before the start of December. You can have it in September or October, it will then cover you for the winter, and so we are rolling it out and more appointments will become available in good time.
"We've got 30 million jabs in total – that is more than we've ever had before, it is almost double what we have typically had in the past, and those are available."
Large pharmacists such as Boots, who administer jabs for the NHS as well as privately, can expect to receive further stocks during the winter.
But earlier this week pharmaceutical experts said many smaller community pharmacies have now dispensed their full stocks of flu vaccine, which were intended to last them the winter, with the head of the Royal College of GPs warning of a mismatch between current stocks and demand for vaccines.
Professor Martin Marshall said: "This is a significant problem – it does seem to be a greater demand than there are supplies. The issue here is that we order our flu vaccines at least six months in advance. The orders were put in before the Covid crisis was recognised."
He urged people to "sit tight" and stressed it was important that all those eligible for the flu jab came forward when told to do so.