Protect yourself and others this winter

Colder weather traditionally leads to increased transmission of viruses, and experts have warned that this year there could see a significant flu surge – coinciding with continuing or rising Covid-19 cases.

This year’s national flu immunisation programme is in full swing, and as immunity to flu is expected to be lower due to lower levels of the virus in circulation last winter, St Hugh’s Hospital is backing the NHS campaign and urging people to ‘get vaccinated, get boosted, get protected.’

Vaccines give high levels of protection, but immunity reduces over time. That’s why this year the Government is pushing the biggest-ever winter vaccine campaign for both flu and Covid-19 (if you’re eligible), so people can protect themselves and their loved ones and play their role in reducing pressure on the NHS.

People will be invited for the COVID-19 booster jab when it’s their turn, and those eligible for a free flu vaccine can book an appointment through their GP surgery or local pharmacy. If you’re not eligible, you can pay for a jab.

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, said: “Our vaccine programme is building a wall of defence across the country. As we go into winter, it is vital that eligible people get their booster jab and their flu jab to protect themselves, their loved ones and the NHS. This is a national mission and I’m hugely grateful to the public, volunteers and NHS workers rolling out jabs.”

Vaccine confidence is high, with data from the Office for National Statistics showing nearly all (94%) of those aged 50 to 69 say they would be likely to get their Covid-19 booster if offered, with the figure rising to 98% for those over 70. Similarly, over three quarters (77%) of those 50 to 69 would be likely to get the flu vaccine and nearly all (94%) of those over 70.

Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at UK Health Security Agency, explained: “This is the first winter when Covid-19 and seasonal flu are expected to be circulating together, putting more lives at risk. Vaccinations are important to protect against both diseases.”

Dr Raj Patel, deputy national medical director of primary care for NHS England, added: “Flu is a huge killer. It has a serious impact on the health of thousands of people every winter and it has never been easier to ensure you are protected, so I would urge everyone to book an appointment directly with you GP or pharmacist as soon as possible.”

While sites are co-administering the flu and Covid vaccines where possible, people may be required to book two separate appointments for the different vaccines.

 

Those eligible for the flu jab are: 

People aged 50 and over.
Those aged between six months and 49 years with a specified health condition.
Some secondary school-aged children.
Two and three-year-olds.
Pregnant women.
Primary school-aged children.
Those in care homes.
People who are carers, as set out in the Green Book.
Frontline healthcare workers.
Frontline social care staff who do not have access to occupational health schemes.
Household contacts of people with weakened immune systems.
 

In line with advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, those eligible for an autumn Covid-19 booster this year include:

Residents in care homes for older adults.
Staff working in care homes for older adults.
Frontline health and social care workers.
All adults aged 50 years and over.
Persons aged five to 49 years in a clinical risk group, as set out in the Green Book.
Persons aged five to 49 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression.
Persons aged 16 to 49 years who are carers, as set out in the Green Book.

For a list of pharmacies offering a free NHS flu vaccination, visit the nhs.uk website.