Im a Covid and flu expert – heres 2 important things you can do to fight them

Omicron: GP explains ‘overwhelming’ science behind vaccines

Health experts from across the UK have united to promote the two “most important things” you can do to protect yourself against Covid and flu this winter.

As part of the UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) new campaign, Get Winter Strong, doctors and health bosses are urging eligible people to get vaccinated against both illnesses.

According to the UKHSA, “millions” of vulnerable people remain at risk from infection.

These include pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions how have recently had a lower vaccine uptake.

The health body is also encouraging parents of children aged two and three to get them jabbed against flu.

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In an update, the UKHSA said that a total of 11.7 million people in England have had the flu vaccine so far, while 8.6 million have taken up the Covid booster.

It comes as the UK saw a surge in COVID-19 cases starting in the summer this year.

This has been linked to the detection of two new strains in the region – the Eris and Pirola variants.

Both are descendants of the highly contagious Omicron strain and thought to cause some similar symptoms such as sore throat, headache and runny or blocked nose.

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Doctor Mary Ramsay, director of immunisation at UKHSA, warned that both Covid and flu could lead to serious illness.

Speaking as part of the Get Winter Strong campaign, she 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.”

Vaccine appointments can be booked through your GP, or via the NHS app or website.

You can also book your Covid jab over the phone by calling 119.

National director for vaccinations and screening at NHS England, Steve Russell, added: “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.

“We are delighted that over 20 million winter vaccines have already been given – making this the fastest flu rollout on record – and hope that others will come forward when they see this campaign, particularly those most at risk.

“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.”

You are eligible for both the flu and Covid jabs if you:

  • Are aged 65 or over (including those who will be 65 by 31 March 2024)
  • Have certain health conditions or a learning disability
  • Are pregnant
  • Live with someone who has a weakened immune system
  • Are a carer
  • Are a frontline health or social care worker
  • Live in a care home.

Children who were aged two or three years on 31 August 2023, school-aged children (Reception to Year 11) and children with certain health conditions are also eligible for a flu jab.

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