People eligible for free winter vaccines urged to come forward over the Christmas holiday

All those eligible for their free winter vaccines are being urged to come forward as soon as possible for their free jabs over the Christmas holiday, as hospitalizations for flu and Covid continue to rise.

It is vital that all those in at risk groups - including those who are pregnant, younger children eligible for the free flu vaccine, the immunosuppressed and those aged over 50 - come forward, if not already vaccinated, to give themselves the protection they need this winter and top up their immunity.

Relatives, friends and neighbors of those in at risk groups are being urged to remind those eligible to come forward for their vaccines to give the gift of the jab this Christmas holiday.

Latest data published by NHS England and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), published yesterday (Thursday 22nd December), shows 8.27 people per 100,000 in hospital for flu and 9.56 per 100,000 for Covid, an increase of 1.47 and 2.95 on last week.

It is also vital that frontline health and social care workers continue to come forward to not only give themselves the protection they need, but added protection for those they care for.

Covid restrictions kept flu at bay in previous seasons, but the ending of these and plunging temperatures in recent weeks has resulted in increased socializing indoors, which is why both viruses are on the rise.

The best form of defense continues to be the vaccine, and with sites open across the festive season it's the perfect opportunity to also remind those who are eligible to get the jab they need.

Appointments for the Covid booster can now be booked through the NHS app, or on the NHS Booking System. People can also just turn up at one of the many walk-in centers around the country and is a great way for family, friends, and neighbors to take advantage of a festive walk and get eligible people jabbed.

Those eligible for the flu jab will have already been contacted by their GP.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Steve Barclay said:

It is fantastic to see that millions of people have already been jabbed by hardworking NHS staff and volunteers, giving them the protection they need throughout winter and beyond.

As we move into the festive holiday, we can all draw on the spirit of Christmas and make sure our vulnerable relatives, friends and neighbours are getting their immunity topped up to prevent them from serious illness.

I know from when I got the jabs how quick and easy it is, and I want to encourage all eligible people to come forward this Christmas."

National Director for Vaccinations and Screening, Steve Russell, said:

Christmas time over the last few years has been uncertain and so this year in particular, everyone wants to enjoy the festivities with loved ones - the best protection against covid-19 and flu you can give yourself remains vaccinations.

As the winter sets in, the latest data shows that far more people are in hospital with flu now compared to last year, especially among under-fives, so if you haven't already, come forward and get your vaccines."

Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said:

Getting the flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster is the best way to avoid getting seriously ill this winter and will help protect our vital NHS services, which are under particularly severe pressures from COVID-19, flu and Strep A.

We're seeing high rates of over 75s and children under 5 being admitted to hospital for flu so no-one should delay coming forward. For most children the flu vaccine is a quick and easy nasal spray available through their GP surgery.

I would encourage everyone to help keep services and themselves running healthily as we enter 2023 by putting the flu vaccine and covid booster on their Christmas to do list."

The latest data shows that as of Wednesday 21st December 19.1 million flu jabs have been administered, and over 17 million autumn Covid booster jabs given.

Vaccination teams from NHS England have visited every care home in the UK - over 15,000 homes in total - meaning around 9 in 10 care home residents have had the jabs they need to keep them protected over the coming months.

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