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How do you book a flu or Covid-19 jab and who is entitled to an autumn booster as health officials tell millions to get vaccinated





Health officials, concerned about a potential tidal wave of flu and coronavirus cases this winter, are urging more than 30 million people to take up the offer of a jab.

But who exactly should be getting a flu jab or coronvirus booster and how do you book an appointment?

More than 30 million people are being asked to come forward for winter Covid19 and flu jabs amid fears of a 'twindemic'. Image: PA.
More than 30 million people are being asked to come forward for winter Covid19 and flu jabs amid fears of a 'twindemic'. Image: PA.

Getting a Covid-19 jab

There are fears the winter months will encourage another wave of Covid-19 which will collide with the UK's traditional flu season - also expected to be worse this year after years of lockdowns and social distancing that has dramatically affected our natural immunity.

As a result, alongside first and second doses still being made available to currently unvaccinated people, various Covid-19 booster jabs are now being offered to millions of patients including:

* Patients over the age of 16 who could now be entitled to an initial booster jab if enough time has passed since their primary immunisations;

* People over the age of 65, those who are pregnant, have underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable or who live with someone more susceptible to Covid-related complications. This group are all being called for an extra jab known as an autumn or seasonal booster;

* Carers - both paid and unpaid - those living or working in a care home for older people alongside frontline health and social care staff are also among the 26 million people being encouraged to take up the offer of an autumn booster jab.

Patients are being told to book flu and Covid-19 jabs to protect them during what is expected to be a difficult winter for respiratory viruses
Patients are being told to book flu and Covid-19 jabs to protect them during what is expected to be a difficult winter for respiratory viruses

You can have a seasonal/autumn booster if it's been at least three months since you had your previous dose however if you have not had a first or second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine yet, you are being advised to book this as soon as possible.

Those with a severely weakened immune system should get an additional primary dose of the jab, says the NHS, before then getting a booster and health officials will be able to advise those entitled.

Covid-19 vaccination appointments can be booked online, alternatively some walk-in hubs will accept patients without an appointment and more details can be found about those here.

The NHS says those aged 50 to 64 are expected to become the next cohort to be offered a futher coronavirus dose but this will happen later this autumn once other groups have been prioritised.

Where possible, says the NHS, people entitled to both could be offered Covid and flu jabs at the same time. Image: PA.
Where possible, says the NHS, people entitled to both could be offered Covid and flu jabs at the same time. Image: PA.

Seasonal flu injections

The UKHSA predicts a 'difficult winter ahead' with respiratory viruses circulating widely.

International surveillance shows that flu strain H3N2 – a subtype of influenza type A – is currently the most-commonly detected flu virus worldwide and has caused waves of infection in southern hemisphere countries such as Australia, which has also experienced flu circulating earlier than usual in their winter season.

There was a record uptake of the flu jab in people aged 65 and over in 2021 but a lower uptake among people in clinical risk groups and pregnant women - both of which are being encouraged to come forward this year with large numbers of Covid-19 also expected, which means people run the added risk of developing both infections at once.

Pregnant women are among those being urged to come forward to a Covid and flu jab. Photo: File image.
Pregnant women are among those being urged to come forward to a Covid and flu jab. Photo: File image.

Alongside being called up by your GP surgery, you can get a free NHS flu vaccine from a pharmacy if you're aged 65 years old or over (including if you'll be 65 years old by March 31, 2023), you have certain medical conditions, are pregnant or are a frontline adult social care worker who cannot get a vaccination from their employer. More details about those entitled and booking arrangements here.

From mid-October the offer of a free flu jab will also most likely be widened to include those aged 50 or over (including if you’ll be 50-years-old by March 31). But if you’re in this age group and have a long-term health condition that puts you at risk from flu, you don’t have to wait until mid-October to make your appointment and should do so now, says the NHS.

The flu vaccine for most children is offered as a nasal spray
The flu vaccine for most children is offered as a nasal spray

What about children?

Hundreds of thousands of children will be offered protection against flu this winter in the form of the nasal spray.

The nasal spray flu vaccine is free on the NHS for children who were aged two or three on August 31 this year, all primary pupils from Reception to Year 6, some secondary school aged children and youngsters aged two to 17 with long-term health conditions.

Babies and toddlers will be invited to take up the offer through their GP surgery while older children will most likely be offered their protection through immunisation teams visiting schools in the coming weeks and months.

Pupils who are home-schooled or who miss their appointment are likely to be offered an appointment instead at a community clinic. More information about that here.

Children above the age of five can now have a Covid-19 vaccine. Photo credit: Jeff Spicer/PA Wire.
Children above the age of five can now have a Covid-19 vaccine. Photo credit: Jeff Spicer/PA Wire.

Children can get a first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine from the day they turn five with most then entitled to a second jab 12 weeks after their primary injection.

Parents can book those appointments online, find a walk-in clinic or wait for NHS immunistion services to call them up if they haven't received their child's or children's invitation already.

People not entitled to a free flu jab can purchase one and have it administered at a pharmacy
People not entitled to a free flu jab can purchase one and have it administered at a pharmacy

Paying for a flu jab

People not entitled to a free flu vaccine on the NHS can, if they wish, purchase and book an appointment through their nearest pharmacy.

Alongside private independent pharmacies, Lloyds Pharmacy, Boots, Superdrug, Tesco and Asda pharmacy chains are among those offering private appointments to people not able to ask the NHS for a free jab.

Prices for a vaccine are usually between about £10 and £15, slots can often be booked online or by telephone and most winter flu jab services are now open for advanced bookings.



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