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Photo of a man with text saying boost your immunity this winter. Protect yourself with the flu jab and COVID-19 booster

Staying safe this winter

This winter it is expected that many respiratory infections, including flu and COVID-19, may be circulating at high levels. The effects of flu and COVID-19 can be more serious if you are over 50 or have an existing health condition. It is more important than ever for people at risk to get their free flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster as soon as possible. The best time to get vaccinated is in the autumn, before the cold temperatures start.

Some people may be eligible for both the flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster. If you are offered both vaccines, it is safe to have them at the same time.

More people are likely to get flu over the winter months than usual because fewer people will have built up natural immunity to it during the COVID-19 restrictions last winter. If you get flu and COVID-19 at the same time, known as co-infection, research shows you are more likely to be seriously ill. Getting vaccinated against flu and COVID-19 will provide protection for you and those around.

Who can have the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine on the NHS is given to:

  • All adults aged 50 years and over
  • Pregnant women
  • Those in long-stay residential care homes
  • Carers
  • Close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
  • Frontline health and social care workers
  • Those aged six months to 65 years in at-risk groups, including people with certain health conditions.

The children’s nasal spray flu vaccine is given to:

  • Children aged two or three on 31 August 2022 (born between 1 September 2019 and 31 August 2020)
  • All primary school children (Reception to Year 6)
  • Some secondary school aged children (Years 7, 8 and 9)
  • Children aged two to 17 years with long-term health conditions.

You can have the flu vaccine at:

  • Your GP surgery
  • A pharmacy offering the service (if you are aged 18 or over)
  • Some maternity services if you are pregnant.

School-aged children will be offered a vaccine at school or a community clinic.

Who can have the COVID-19 booster?

Currently people aged 65 years and over are being prioritised for getting a COVID-19 booster. Later in the autumn, the following groups who are not at higher risk will be able to get it:

  • All adults aged 50 years and over
  • Pregnant women
  • Residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults
  • Persons aged 16 to 49 years who are carers
  • Persons aged five to 49 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression
  • Frontline health and social care workers
  • Persons aged five to 49 years in a clinical risk group.

How to get the COVID-19 booster

You can:

Public health guidance

As well as taking up the vaccines, everyone is encouraged to continue to take simple, effective steps to protect themselves and loved ones this winter by:

  • Practising good hand hygiene
  • Wearing masks in crowded or enclosed public spaces
  • Covering your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze.

For more information on the flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster, please visit the NHS website.

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