Take up flu and Covid vaccines and 'Get Winter Strong' - says UKHSA - The Solihull Observer

Take up flu and Covid vaccines and 'Get Winter Strong' - says UKHSA

Solihull Editorial 27th Oct, 2023   0

RESIDENTS in the West Midlands who are eligible for the free flu and Covid 19 vaccine are being urged to take up the offer to ‘Get Winter Strong’ and have a safe and healthy Diwali.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) says as the vaccines take up to two weeks to provide maximum protection, getting vaccinated now will help reduce the risk of severe disease in time for the festival November 12.

Everyone aged 65 and over, pregnant women, and individuals with certain long-term health conditions like diabetes or cardiovascular disease, are eligible for the free vaccines.

Children are also eligible for a free flu vaccine and are advised to take up the vaccine ahead of the festivities if receiving the vaccine from their GP.

Schoolchildren in reception to year 11 will be offered the free nasal spray flu vaccine, delivered in schools by immunisation teams across the region.

Those aged two and three (on or before August 31) are eligible for the free nasal spray via their GP practice.

And any child aged six months or over who has a health condition that puts them at increased risk from flu should have a vaccine every year.

Children who can’t have the nasal spray for medical or faith reasons should request an injected flu vaccine instead.

Jasvir Kaur Bal, health protection practitioner with UKHSA West Midlands, said: “Diwali is the most important festival in the year for Hindus, Sikhs and Jains.

“Families and friends come together to celebrate over five days, with feasting and exchanging of gifts.

“As Diwali occurs in October or November, this coincides with the winter sickness season – when we typically see cases of flu and Covid 19 increasing.

“That’s why we’re urging everyone celebrating Diwali who is eligible for their flu and Covid vaccines to prioritise their health and ‘get winter strong’.

“As well as protecting yourself, make sure your children are vaccinated against the flu.

“Last year, 10,000 children were hospitalised across the country because of complications after catching flu. As well as reducing risk of serious illness in your children, the flu vaccine helps stop the spread of flu in the family and wider community – helping to protect those who are more vulnerable and older people, such as grandparents.

“Make sure you and your loved ones have a blessed, healthy and prosperous Diwali by getting your winter vaccines.”

Parents are urged to ensure their children’s school vaccination consent forms are completed, and that eligible pre-schoolers are booked for appointments at the GP practice to help reduce the spread of flu this autumn and winter.

To book Covid and flu vaccines, you can either download the NHS App, visit www.nhs.uk/book-covid or call 119 for free if you can’t get online.


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