Health leaders are expecting to see a wave of COVID infections this October and early in the New Year – at the same time as increasing levels of flu begin to circulate in the community.
They say vaccinations are the best way for people protect themselves and their loved ones from serious respiratory illness – and help prevent the local health and care system from being overwhelmed.
People aged 50 and over, pregnant women, carers, front line health and care workers, care home residents and people of all ages who have a weakened immune system or live with someone who has, can get a seasonal COVID-19 booster.
There’s information about how to get your COVID Autumn booster (or further primary dose, if required) on the NHS website at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/
Most of the groups above will also be offered a free flu jab, including many categories of frontline health and care staff and staff. Younger people with some long-term health conditions are also being offered a free NHS flu jab.
You can find out about flu jab eligibility on the NHS website at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/
As well as free flu jobs for those eligible, many pharmacies are also offering flu vaccinations for around £10.
Health leaders say there are a number of steps we can all follow this autumn and winter, to protect ourselves and health and care services.
- make sure you’re fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or get your seasonal booster if eligible
- have a flu jab this year
- wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser regularly
- Catch a sneeze or cough in a tissue and dispose of it in the bin or flush it
- open doors and windows to let fresh air in when meeting people inside
- consider wearing a face covering in crowded indoor places
- put off a hospital visit or non-urgent GP practice appointments if you are showing symptoms of a respiratory infection
- keep an eye on more vulnerable friends, relations or neighbours
- touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
- visit older or vulnerable people if you’re poorly (this includes if you have sickness and diarrhoea)
Remember, while there are cases of Covid-19 about, there’s still a risk you can catch it or pass it on, even if you’re fully vaccinated or you’ve had the virus before.