This winter, both COVID-19 and flu may circulate at high levels, and maybe at the same time.
That’s why millions of people are being offered vaccination now; it will help protect us over the coming months.
Both viruses are dangerous but if you get flu and COVID-19 at the same time you are at higher risk of becoming seriously unwell. As this is the first winter since COVID-19 emerged without restrictions in place, the best way to protect yourself from getting unwell from either is to get vaccinated.
If you are eligible for a vaccination you are urged to get yours as soon as possible to boost your protection against these viruses, which also helps to protect others and the NHS.
Who is eligible for the flu vaccine?
Who is eligible for the covid booster?
The annual flu vaccine is being offered to:
The booster is being offered to:
Every year different strains of flu circulate and the numbers of people who get flu vary. This means we need slightly different vaccines each year.
To design the flu vaccine for each new season, scientists look at the how successful previous years’ vaccines have been and look at the information from around the world to see which strains are making people sick.
All this information is used to decide which strains go into the next vaccine, giving the best chance of a high level of protection.
Flu is unpleasant for most people but it can cause serious illness and in some circumstances be life threatening, particularly for those with certain health conditions.
The covid restrictions have meant over the last couple of years flu hasn’t circulated as widely as usual and so less people than normal will have built up a natural immunity.
Young children in particular are unlikely to have built up any natural immunity to flu. It’s being offered to children in the form of a quick and painless nasal spray.
In addition to the predicted flu wave, there is an indication that covid-19 rates are rising, increasing the risk of getting both viruses; that is why everyone is urged to get their vaccines as soon as they can.
COVID-19 vaccination has been given in stages followed by boosters because evidence shows that while the vaccines are effective our immunity wanes over time.
Booster doses significantly increase immunity and particularly for those most at risk they reduce the numbers of people who require hospitalisation or die.
Since cases generally rise across the winter months, it’s really important that all those eligible get boosted to up their immunity levels.
Vaccination remains the most effective way we know of to avoid serious illness from flu and covid. Please make sure that you read advice from trusted sources so that you are able to make an informed choice about vaccines.
Visit nhs.uk/wintervaccinations for more information on who is eligible and how to book.