| Autumn/Winter Vaccinations 2023-24
For many people, particularly those with certain health conditions, older people and pregnant women, COVID-19 and Flu can be very dangerous and even life-threatening.
Every winter, thousands die from flu and people can still get very ill or die from COVID-19. Catching both viruses over winter increases the risk of serious illness even further.
Vaccines are our best protection against flu and COVID-19. Over the last few years, they have kept tens of thousands of people out of hospital and helped to save countless lives.
In winter, flu and COVID-19 spread more easily as we spend more time indoors. Getting these vaccines ahead of winter are two of the most important things you can do to keep yourself and others around you safe and get ‘winter strong’.
Eligibility and availability
In line with expert advice, the NHS is offering flu and COVID-19 vaccines to those at greater risk of serious illness this autumn and winter.
This year, the offer was brought forward based on expert advice following the emergence of the new BA.2.86 COVID-19 variant.
NHS staff have worked hard to prepare for the earlier start date and to make it as easy and convenient as possible for people to get protection.
Those who can get both vaccines through the NHS will include everyone aged 65 and above, pregnant women, care home residents, people aged 6 months old or above with certain health conditions, frontline health and care staff, unpaid carers and household contacts of those at higher risk.
If eligible, you are encouraged to come forward as soon as you can due to the risk of the new variant, for the best possible protection. It is important to top up your protection, even if you have had a vaccine or been ill with flu or COVID-19 before, as immunity fades over time and these viruses change each year.
The flu vaccine is also offered to most children including all aged 2 and 3 years old and school aged children from reception to year 11, as well as those with underlying health conditions. The children’s flu vaccine is usually given as a quick and painless spray up the nose.
Children should get the flu vaccine as soon as they can for their protection and to help stop the virus spreading to others. Children aged under 5 have one of the highest hospitalisation rates for flu.
Last year, more than 6,000 under-5s in England were hospitalised by flu, and many more needed care in accident and emergency. The vaccine reduces a child’s chance of needing hospital care for flu by around two-thirds.
How and when to get your winter vaccines
Winter flu and COVID-19 vaccinations started for adults on 11 September, including visits to residents of care homes and people who are housebound.
Other eligible adults can book their COVID-19 vaccine from the morning of 18 September, on the NHS App or by visiting www.nhs.uk/seasonalvaccinations.
Those who can’t get online can also make a booking at one of the same sites by calling 119 for free. Some areas will also be offering local walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations.
Eligible under-18s will be able to book the COVID-19 vaccine from October.
Adult flu vaccinations can be booked now through your GP practice or local pharmacy, and some people may be offered their vaccinations directly by a local NHS service. Most people will receive both vaccines at a GP practice or a local pharmacy. School- aged children will get their flu vaccine through schools and community venues and those aged 2-3 years old or with certain health conditions can get the flu vaccine at their GP practice.
If you are pregnant, you may also be able to get the flu and COVID-19 vaccines through your local maternity service. You will be eligible at any stage of their pregnancy to help protect you and your baby.
Both vaccines have a good safety and effectiveness record. Their side-effects are generally mild and do not last for more than a few days.
We encourage you to get both vaccines in the same visit where possible, to get protected against both viruses in just a few minutes. If this is not possible, it is better to get each vaccine as soon as you can rather than waiting. You can find out the latest information about both vaccines and how to book by visiting www.nhs.uk/seasonalvaccinations.
At our GP practice, the next Flu and Covid Clinic will be on the Friday 17th of October.