“Don’t let COVID or flu spoil your holiday season,” NHS urges residents as Christmas approaches

“Don’t let COVID or flu spoil your holiday season,” NHS urges residents as Christmas approaches image

Home » “Don’t let COVID or flu spoil your holiday season,” NHS urges residents as Christmas approaches

Eligible residents in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes have been urged to beat the rush and come forward now for COVID-19 and flu vaccinations, ahead of an expected surge in demand.

Vaccinations generally take around two weeks to start working, but thousands of people in the local area have still not made arrangements to receive their immunisations in advance of the Christmas holiday season.

The flu vaccine is given free on the NHS to adults who:

  • are 65 and over (including those who will turn 65 by 31 March 2024);
  • have certain health conditions;
  • are pregnant;
  • are in long-stay residential care;
  • receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick;
  • live with someone who is more likely to get a severe infection due to a weakened immune system, such as someone living with HIV, who has had a transplant, or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

Most eligible people will be offered a vaccination appointment or drop-in by their general practice, but you can also go to any pharmacy or other location which is offering jabs this winter.

There are over 65 locations in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes offering COVID-19 vaccinations to anyone who is eligible.  As with the flu campaign, you don’t need to wait to be invited before coming forward.

The COVID-19 vaccine is available to adults who:

  • are aged 65 or over (including those who will turn 65 by 31 March 2024);
  • have certain health conditions which put them at increased risk;
  • are pregnant;
  • live in a care home for older adults;
  • are a frontline health or social care worker;
  • are a carer;
  • live with someone with a weakened immune system.

The flu vaccine is also available to children, most of whom will receive a visit from an NHS vaccination team at their school.  If your child was aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2023, or aged over 6 months to 2 years and in clinical risk groups, s/he is also eligible and you should contact your GP surgery to find out how to get a vaccination.

Some children are also eligible because of a health condition, or because they live with someone who is at increased risk of serious illness.

Dr Sarah Whiteman, chief medical director at Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board, said:

“Remember that it takes a couple of weeks for vaccines to work, so you do need to come forward very soon to get the protection you might want before spending the festive season with family and friends.

“We are seeing a double threat from flu and COVID-19, so it’s crucial that you take up your free vaccinations as soon as possible.

“In particular, there is a close relationship between getting older and increased risk from severe respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19 and flu, so I cannot stress enough how important it is to take up your vaccination entitlement.  They could well save your life.

“Having your jabs is the best way to protect yourself and those closest to you, and there’s still time for eligible people to get them: just speak to your pharmacist or your general practice for more details.

“You can also find the latest information about both vaccines and how to book by visiting www.nhs.uk/seasonalvaccinations.”

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