Rossendale Free Press

Protect yourself from flu and Covid this winter



s Covid cases remain high going into winter, the NHS is inviting people aged 50 or over and those at risk of serious illness to get a booster vaccinatio­n.

But there could also be a significan­t flu surge this winter – so getting your jab for that is vital too. Last winter, social distancing and limited mixing meant that flu cases were much lower than normal, but dangerous viruses spread quickly when people are all crowded together indoors.

So this winter it’s important to boost your immunity with both the Covid booster and flu vaccine if you’re eligible.

Who needs a Covid-19 vaccinatio­n booster?

All those most likely to become seriously ill from Covid-19 and those who care for them. But first you need to have had your initial two vaccine doses. The booster will be offered to people aged 50-plus, those with a health condition that puts them at high risk from Covid, people who live and work in care homes, and frontline and social care workers.

If I’m eligible, when can I book my Covid booster?

The NHS will let eligible people know how to get their booster, which they can have from six months after their second dose. People with certain health conditions may be offered it earlier. Thousands of locations across the country offer a Covid-19 booster, to give people choice and convenient access. If you are eligible, you will be able to book an appointmen­t at a vaccinatio­n centre, designated

national booking

go to a walk-in service by using the NHS Grab a Jab walk-in site finder. This is alongside many

hospitals inviting

Who is eligible for the free flu vaccine from the NHS?

For a full list of those who can get a free flu vaccinatio­n see

What about kids?

Most primary school pupils and those in secondary school years seven to 11 will be offered the flu vaccinatio­n as a nasal spray. Parents or guardians will need to give consent for this. Children aged between two and three (as of August 31, 2021) will be offered a nasal spray by their GP practice. Those aged six months to two years with a long-term health condition that makes them at higher risk from flu will be offered a vaccine injection.

Where can I get a flu vaccine?

Your GP surgery, a pharmacy offering the service, from your midwife if you’re pregnant, or at a hospital appointmen­t. School-age children will be offered the vaccine at school. Those that haven’t started school yet or have a long-term health condition can receive the vaccine from their GP.

I never get flu – why do I need a vaccine?

The flu virus kills almost 11,000 people and hospitalis­es tens of thousands more in England in an average year. It’s more important than ever to get your flu jab this year because more people are likely to get it because we didn’t build up natural immunity during the Covid pandemic.

If you get flu and Covid at the same time, you’re more likely to be seriously ill. Also, getting vaccinated against flu and Covid-19 will provide protection for you and those around you for both these serious illnesses.

So why didn’t we see much flu in last winter?

There are several likely factors, including the measures put in place to stop the spread of Covid19. Last winter also saw record levels of flu vaccine uptake.

Will we be more vulnerable to flu this year?

Different strains of flu circulate each year. There may be more strains this year as there were so few flu cases last season. Thus there is less immunity against

last year’s strains, and they could continue circulatin­g this year along with the new strains.

How effective is the flu vaccine?

It helps protect against the main types of flu virus. While there’s still a chance you might get flu, it’s likely to be milder. The flu vaccine will also stop you from spreading flu to others.

I’m pregnant – is it safe to

Yes – both are safe for pregnant women, and it’s important to have both if

if you contract Covid-19 without the vaccine, and the flu vaccine will also help protect your unborn

pregnant, you’re at risk from complicati­ons such as bronchitis and it could

prematurel­y, have a low birthweigh­t and may even lead to stillbirth. If you’re pregnant you can get a free flu vaccine from your

GP, pharmacist or through your maternity service.

Are there any side effects?

Serious side effects are very rare.

The nasal vaccine might lead to a runny or blocked nose, headache, tiredness and some loss of appetite. The injection might give you a sore arm at the site of the injection, a low-grade fever and aching muscles for a day or two after the vaccinatio­n.

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