Flu and COVID-19: your double jab questions answered
This winter we face a double threat from COVID-19 and flu. To help combat their spread, free COVID-19 booster and flu vaccines are available. The latest data shows that protection provided by the COVID-19 vaccine falls after 6 months, particularly for older adults and at-risk groups. Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and flu provides protection for you and those around you from both serious illnesses.
"The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones this winter."
NHS deputy vaccination programme lead Dr Nikki Kanani said: “The NHS COVID-19 vaccine programme, the largest and most successful in NHS history, has protected millions of people and saved around 130,000 lives.
“Flu and COVID-19 both cost lives and the increased threat from the two deadly viruses this winter makes it even more important for people to continue sticking to good habits like washing their hands regularly.
"It's important that anyone eligible comes forward for a flu vaccine as soon as possible and books in their booster when they are invited – the vaccines are safe, effective and the best thing you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones this winter.”
You are eligible for a flu vaccination if you...
- Are aged 50 and over
- Aged six months to 50 years in clinical risk groups, (See the NHS website or a full list of conditions and clinical risk groups.)
- Are pregnant
- Live or stay in long-stay residential care
- Close contacts with immunocompromised individuals or carers
- Frontline health or social care workers
- Children aged from 2 years to those in secondary school year 11
You are eligible for a COVID-19 booster vaccine if you …
- Are aged 50 and over
- Live and work in care homes
- Are a frontline health or social care worker
- Are aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts you at high risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19
- Are aged 16 and over and a main carer for someone at high risk from COVID-19
- Are pregnant and in one of the eligible groups, you can also get a booster dose.
Flu vaccine – your questions answered
Why do we need a flu vaccine? The flu virus kills almost 11,000 people and hospitalises tens of thousands more in England on average every year. If you get flu and COVID-19 at the same time, research shows you’re more likely to be seriously ill.
Are there any side effects? Nasal vaccine side effects may include a runny or blocked nose, headache, tiredness and some loss of appetite. Those having the injected vaccine may get a sore arm at the site of the injection, a low-grade fever and aching muscles for a day or two after the vaccination. Serious side effects with either the nasal spray or injection are extremely rare.
What flu vaccine is available to children? The children’s nasal spray flu vaccine is offered to children between 2 and 17 years old. They will be offered the flu vaccine injection if the nasal spray vaccine is not suitable for them. Children between 6 months and 2 years with a long-term health condition that makes them at higher risk from flu will be offered a flu vaccine injection – the nasal spray is not licensed for children under 2 years.
More information on the flu vaccination can be found at NHS FLujab
COVID-19 booster vaccine – your questions answered
Why do we need a booster? It’s to give the people that are most likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19 and those who care for them with the best possible protection this winter.
When can I get a COVID-19 booster? The NHS will let eligible people know how to get their booster which people can have from six months after their second dose. People with certain health conditions may be offered the COVID-19 booster earlier. Thousands of locations across the country offer a COVID-19 booster to give people choice and convenient access. If you are eligible, you will be able to book an appointment at a vaccination centre, designated pharmacy or GP-led service using the NHS COVID-19 national booking service or you can simply go to a walk-in service by using the NHS ‘Grab a Jab’ walk-in site finder. This is alongside many GP-led services and hospitals directly inviting people to be vaccinated through their services.
I’m pregnant – is it safe to get the COVID-19 and flu jabs? Yes – both are safe for pregnant women, and it’s important to have both if eligible. There are more risks for you and your pregnancy if you contract COVID-19 without the vaccine, and the flu vaccine will also help protect your unborn baby. If you catch flu when pregnant, you’re at risk from complications such as bronchitis and it could cause your baby to be born prematurely, have a low birthweight and may even lead to stillbirth. If you’re pregnant you can get a free flu vaccine from your GP, pharmacist or through your maternity service.
For more information head to nhs.uk/wintervaccinations
The COVID-19 booster programme is designed to top up protection from serious disease for those most at risk over the winter months. Early results from Pfizer show that a booster following a primary schedule of the same vaccine restores back up to 95.6% against symptomatic infection.
As with the Phase 1 and 2 roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine, booster jabs will be available at a range of locations. Those eligible for a COVID-19 booster vaccine should book as soon as they are invited.
Check your eligibility for the COVID-19 booster and flu vaccinations at nhs.uk/wintervaccinations