Since the first COVID-19 vaccine was given, it has saved lives, helped tens of thousands of people stay out of hospital, and made it safer for us to live with COVID. But the virus is still with us and is still making people very ill every day.
And, as we head into autumn and winter, flu presents further dangers. For most people flu is unpleasant, for some it can be very dangerous and even life-threatening, particularly those with certain health conditions. The flu vaccine is the best protection against getting seriously ill from flu and spreading it to other people.
Getting your flu and COVID vaccines are two of the most important things you can do to keep yourself and others around you safe this winter.
Experts advise that those at greater risk will need extra protection this winter. For Covid-19 and flu, everyone aged 50 and over, people with certain health conditions that put them at risk and frontline health and care staff will be offered a vaccine. To protect against flu, additional groups most at risk of getting seriously ill from flu or of passing it on to others, such as pregnant women, young children, primary school aged and some secondary school aged children will be offered protection. COVID-19 and flu can be serious for those these groups and getting both COVID-19 and flu at the same time increases risk.
The NHS is getting ready to offer COVID-19 vaccines over autumn to those eligible, starting with those at greatest risk. It is important people who are eligible come forward as soon as possible when it’s their turn, for extra protection ahead of winter, when viruses circulate most and can cause greatest harm. For maximum protection, your COVID vaccination must be at least three months after your previous dose.
Based on expert guidance the NHS is offering vaccination to those at greatest risk first. The NHS will let people know when it is their turn to come forward for their COVID-19 vaccine and more information is available on the NHS website. Once invited, people can book their seasonal COVID-19 vaccine using the National Booking Service or by calling 119, or can find a local vaccination walk-in site.
This year, the flu vaccine will be offered to those most at risk from flu first. From September, younger children, older people, those in clinical risk groups and pregnant women will be able to book an appointment for a flu vaccine at their GP practice or pharmacy. From mid-October 2022, people aged 50 to 64 years old that aren’t in a clinical risk group, will also be able to get a free flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is offered through schools for school-aged children and pregnant women can get their flu vaccine through their GP practice, pharmacy or maternity service.
The COVID-19 and the flu vaccine can be given on the same day and some people might get both vaccines at the same time. However, this may not always be possible, so we encourage everybody to get each vaccination as soon as they can, rather than waiting to get both at the same time.
Please help to keep yourself and those around you safe against these viruses by getting vaccinated when you are invited. You can find out more about what vaccinations you may need, and information about how to book an appointment, by visiting www.nhs.uk/flujab and www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccine.