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Boost your immunity this winter

Published: 24 September 2021

Why it's important to have your jabs this year

This winter, it's more important than ever to play your part in protecting yourself and those who may be more at risk of becoming unwell. Flu and COVID-19 can both be life threatening and spread more easily in winter.

Most adults and children will be eligible for a flu vaccination, a COVID-19 booster vaccination, or both. It's the most effective way of boosting our immunity and protecting ourselves from these viruses, helping ensure Surrey residents stay fit and healthy.

Why we should vaccinate against flu

Each year, different strains of flu virus circulate in the community as the virus is very adaptable. That's why it's important to get vaccinated each year, and this year especially. This is because fewer people have built up immunity to flu due to measures put in place for COVID-19 (mask-wearing, physical and social distancing, and restrictions on international travel).

While it's not 100% effective, the flu vaccine will protect a significant number of people and reduce the severity of flu if you get it. It could also help your relatives or people you care for because you will not be passing the disease to them.

Flu is very infectious and easily spreads to other people from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours. To reduce the risk of spreading flu you should wash your hands often with warm water and soap, use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze, and bin used tissues as quickly as possible.

Who is eligible for the free flu vaccination?

The NHS has expanded the programme from last year. This winter (2021/22 season) the following groups of people are eligible for the free flu vaccination:

  • all children aged 2 to 15 (but not 16 years or older) on 31 August 2021
  • those aged 6 months to under 50 years in clinical risk groups
  • pregnant women
  • those aged 50 years and over
  • those in long-stay residential care homes
  • carers (unpaid carers looking after someone who is elderly or disabled can get a Surrey Carers' Flu Jab Voucher )
  • close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
  • frontline health and social care staff employed by:
    • a registered residential care or nursing home
    • registered domiciliary care provider
    • a voluntary managed hospice provider
    • Direct Payment (personal budgets) and/or Personal Health Budgets, such as Personal Assistants

Children aged two and three will continue to be offered the quick and easy nasal spray through their GP and all school aged children will be offered it in school unless they have an underlying health condition. An alternative flu vaccine, in the form of an injection, will again be available this year for children whose parents decline the flu nasal spray due to its porcine gelatine content.

Where can I get my free flu jab?

If you're eligible for a free flu vaccination, you can have it at:

  • your GP surgery
  • community pharmacy offering the service
  • your midwifery service if they offer it for pregnant women

COVID-19 booster vaccine programme

Individuals who are most at risk and who have already received two doses of vaccine will be offered a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine, also referred to as the COVID-19 booster.

Those offered the booster initially will be:

  • those living in residential care homes for older adults
  • all adults aged 50 years or over
  • frontline health and social care workers
  • all those aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 (as set out in the green book), and adult carers
  • adult household contacts (aged 16 or over) of immunosuppressed individuals

The JCVI advice is that the COVID-19 booster can be given at the same time as the flu vaccine. 2021 COVID-19 booster vaccine programme.

More information about important vaccinations

If you would like to find out more about the vaccination programme (also for other important vaccinations e.g. pneumococcal), and helpful resources on how else you can protect yourself and loved ones this winter, visit healthysurrey.org.uk/winter

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