Top up your immunity this autumn, urge local health leaders
1st November 2021 | By Liz Mattock | Posted in
NHS leaders in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR) are urging eligible people to make sure they are fully protected against flu and covid this winter, by getting the vaccines as soon as they are invited.
Latest figures show that more than one and a half million 1,552,908 doses of the Covid vaccination have been given to people in LLR and more than half of eligible people aged 50+ have now received their booster jab, which helps people who have been double-jabbed retain their immunity.
The flu vaccination programme is also well underway, this year anyone aged 50+ is able to have a free vaccine, as well as carers, pregnant women and adults with health conditions that mean they are vulnerable to flu. Children from age 2 up to year 11 in school can also have the flu vaccine, as well children aged 2 to 17 who have long-term health conditions.
Dr Sulaxni Nainani, GP and clinical lead for covid vaccinations with the LLR Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “There has never been a more important time to make sure you, and those you care for, are protected against serious illnesses such as the flu. We are asking everyone who is at risk of being affected by the flu to get vaccinated now.
“More people are likely to get flu this winter as fewer people will have built up natural immunity to it during the COVID-19 pandemic. And with both flu and COVID-19 circulating, if you get them both at the same time, you’re more likely to be seriously ill.
“By having the flu vaccination, you will help protect yourself and others from what can be a severe, and sometimes fatal, illness which could lead to hospital treatment. You will also be helping to protect the NHS from coming under pressure this winter.”
The flu vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine. If you’ve had COVID-19, it’s safe to have the flu vaccine. It will still be effective at helping to prevent flu.
The local COVID-19 vaccination programme is also continuing at pace, the current focus is on giving booster doses to eligible people, but first and second doses are also still available.
Dr Nainani explained: “If you have still not come forward for your COVID-19 vaccine, it is not too late and I can’t emphasise strongly enough how vital it is that everyone who’s eligible has this life-saving vaccine. It will help prevent you from becoming seriously ill if you develop COVID-19.
“We are continuing to encourage eligible people to have their booster vaccine. It is proven to significantly increase protection against COVID-19 and will provide vital protection this winter. Some people may be eligible for both the flu and the COVID-19 booster vaccines; if you are offered both it’s safe to have them at the same time.
“People aged 50 and over, health and care workers or people aged 16 and over who have certain health conditions are all eligible for the booster vaccine. Messages will come from ‘NHSvaccine’ and will include a link to the NHS website, so that you can book an appointment at a convenient site nearby. If you receive an invitation by text or letter you should come forward as soon as possible.”
There is one further category of COVID-19 vaccine which is a third, or ‘top-up’ dose. third dose, for those aged over 12 who were severely immunosuppressed at the time of their first or second dose. This includes those with leukaemia, advanced HIV and recent organ transplants, as they may not have generated a full immune response to the first two doses and may be less protected than the wider population. If you are identified as eligible for the third dose you will be contacted and invited to attend a clinic. The third dose should be given no sooner than 8 weeks after the second dose. It is not the same as a booster dose, which is given later, after 6 months.
12 to 15 year olds in LLR can now have their COVID-19 vaccine at a local vaccination centre. Parents and guardians can book an appointment on their behalf. The move provides parents and carers with an additional option to vaccinate their child from the virus, alongside the school vaccination programme, which has so far given 9,000 local young people the jab. The vaccination programme within local schools will run until the end of November.
The new specialist clinics for 12-15-year-olds can be booked on the National Booking Service and will have around 500 appointments a week for the next three weeks. They will be held at Loughborough Hospital and the Peepul Centre in Leicester one evening a week and at weekends. More sites and dates will be added over the coming weeks, so parents are advised to keep checking the booking service. Read more here.
Dr Nainani said: “There is a lot happening with vaccinations this winter and I appreciate that it might seem quite complicated. But the simple message is this: If you are invited to have a vaccine, for COVID-19 or flu, please do take up the offer, because this winter it is more important than ever before, that we are all fully protected.”