Eligible people are invited to book their free vaccines ahead of the festive and new year season, when flu and Covid-19 are expected to peak.
A total of 11.7 million people in England have had the flu vaccine so far, with 8.6 million taking up the COVID-19 booster, but millions more in vulnerable groups remain at risk. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England are urging those eligible who have not yet come forward to book their flu and Covid-19 vaccines.
Dr Mary Ramsay, Director of Immunisation at UKHSA, said: “As the weather turns colder, respiratory viruses spread more easily and usually reach their peak over the festive and new year period.
“For those most vulnerable both flu and Covid-19 can cause severe illness, often hospitalisation. Nobody wants to miss out on the festive celebrations with their friends and family this winter and the vaccines provide the best possible protection.
“I urge all those eligible to join the millions of others who have taken up their free vaccine offer to get winter strong – don’t put it off, book your appointment today and arm yourself against the risk of severe illness.”
Steve Russell, Chief Delivery Officer and National Director for Vaccinations and Screening at NHS England, said:
“Getting the flu and Covid-19 vaccines are two of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from serious illness this winter.
“There are thousands of sites open across the country and eligible adults can book both vaccines online or through the NHS App in just a few minutes – if you’re eligible, we’d urge you to get both vaccinations as soon as you can, to help protect yourself and your loved ones and get winter strong.”
National charities including Kidney Care UK are also urging those with health conditions that make them more vulnerable to serious complications of flu and COVID-19 to come forward to get their jabs.
Fiona Loud, Policy Director at Kidney Care UK, said:
“Covid-19 still poses risks to thousands of immunocompromised people who don’t have the same level of protection from the vaccines as the general public do. People with kidney disease are also vulnerable to flu complications.
"Evidence shows that Covid-19 protection increases with each booster dose so it’s really important that as many people as possible take up the offer of Covid-19 and flu vaccines. If you live with someone who is offered the vaccines because they are immunocompromised or have kidney disease then you are eligible too, so we urge everyone to check if they can have their free vaccines, and if they are, to arrange to have these as soon as they can.”
Find more information about the vaccines and how to book them on the Seasonal vaccinations and winter health NHS website.