As the temperatures start to drop and illnesses begin to spread, vaccines are our best form of defence against flu and Covid-19.
Eligible people should make sure they have the best protection possible by getting vaccinated, even if they have had a vaccine or been ill with flu or Covid-19 before, as these viruses can change each year.
Catherine Gladwyn, a 46-year-old virtual assistant coach from Swindon, Wiltshire, has already had her Covid-19 and flu jabs.
“I’m currently undergoing treatment for a pituitary brain tumour and Addison's disease, which is an adrenal insufficiency,” she said.
“I wasn’t sure if I’d be eligible for the Covid vaccine this year, but I decided to see if I meet the criteria, just in case.
“I used the NHS website, and it was really quick and easy – I just answered a few questions, and it told me I was eligible.”
Getting vaccinated is especially important as winter approaches. Thousands will die from flu and people can still get very ill or die from Covid-19.
Last winter, deaths from flu were higher than those from Covid-19. Catching both viruses over winter increases the risk of serious illness even further.
Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor at UKHSA, said: “Last year, the flu virus was estimated to be responsible for over 14,000 excess deaths and tens of thousands of hospitalisations, including over 10,000 in children.
“Last winter the vaccine prevented an estimated 25,000 hospitalisations, but this could be even greater if all those eligible for the flu vaccine came forward this year. Pregnant women, young children and those with certain chronic health conditions are particularly vulnerable, and we have good evidence to suggest this year’s vaccine will offer good protection.
“Taking up both the flu and Covid-19 vaccines ahead of winter provides the best level of protection against severe illness - helping keep you winter strong - and will help ease the pressure on the NHS.”
Flu and Covid-19 spread more easily in winter because we spend more time indoors and they can cause you serious illness.
The flu and Covid-19 vaccines both have good safety records and are effective. They give you the best protection against these viruses.
Heather Rose, also 46 and from Rossendale in Lancashire, is carer for her son Isaac, 15, who has autism and ADHD.
Heather, an owner of social media empowerment company, said: “When you have a business to run and a son with additional needs, you can’t afford to be poorly in bed – that’s why I booked my flu and Covid-19 vaccines straight after I was invited for them at a local pharmacy.
“I’m eligible because I lost a kidney at just 17 – it had to be removed because there was a huge cyst inside it – and as I’m carer to my son Isaac, 15, who has autism and ADHD.
“I did get Covid in the spring of 2022. I was pretty rough but, apart from one afternoon in bed, able to carry on with my life. I think that was down to the vaccines.
“I had my vaccines at the local pharmacy last week – flu in one arm and Covid-19 in the other. I was in and out in ten minutes – done. Knowing I’m protected gives me peace of mind.”
If you have certain health conditions, are 65-years-old and over, or are pregnant you are eligible for flu and Covid-19 vaccines. Two and three-year-olds by 31 August 2023 are eligible for the flu vaccine. Most children will receive a quick and easy nasal spray.
For many, particularly those with certain health conditions, older people and pregnant women, flu and Covid-19 can be very dangerous and even life-threatening.
It is important to remember that if you are vaccinated and catch flu or Covid-19 this winter you are likely to have milder symptoms and recover faster, cutting your risk of being hospitalised.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Thomas Waite said: “Vaccines have saved many lives over the years for both flu and more recently Covid-19. But we must not be complacent – infections will rise once again this winter, so it’s really important people get both their Covid-19 and flu vaccines if eligible.
“Vaccines are the best way to protect yourself from serious illness and will help reduce pressure on the healthcare system.”
NHS medical director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, said: “Last winter, hospitals saw significant numbers of people being treated for life- threatening viruses like flu and Covid-19.
“Vaccines are our best protection against serious illness and the NHS is offering them at thousands of sites across the country.
“If you’re eligible, I urge you to get both vaccinations as soon as you can, to help protect yourself and your loved ones.”
Get Vaccinated Get Winter Strong. Check if you’re eligible at nhs.uk/wintervaccinations and book your appointment now.
The NHS App is a simple and secure way to access a range of NHS services. It is available to all patients aged 13 and over who are registered with an NHS GP practice in England and the Isle of Man.
Get the free NHS App to:
- Order repeat prescriptions
- Book flu and Covid-19 vaccinations
- View your GP health record securely
- Get health advice
- Find NHS services near you
For more information visit: nhs.uk/nhs-app. Download from the App Store or Google Play.