Confused about booster jabs and flu vaccines? Here’s what you need to know

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(Last Updated On: October 18, 2021)

People in Devon are reminded to get their COVID and flu vaccinations to give themselves the best possible protection against these deadly illnesses this winter.

The COVID jab does not protect against flu so it is vital to have both vaccinations to reduce your chances of becoming unwell and needing hospital treatment. Getting vaccinated helps you and the NHS, which is already facing extreme pressures in the run up to the very busy winter season.

Each winter, on average, 11,000 people in England die from flu and new government research suggests that adults in England are severely underestimating the combined threat of COVID-19 and flu this winter.

The UK Health Security Agency has warned that there could be a significant flu surge this winter coinciding with continuing or rising COVID-19 cases. This is due to colder weather, increased social contact indoors and expected lower natural immunity to flu due to lower levels in circulation last winter.

Darryn Allcorn, Chief Nurse for the NHS in Devon, said: “The NHS is incredibly busy and we need you to stand by us this winter. Please have both the annual flu and booster Covid vaccinations if you are eligible. If you still haven’t had your first or second dose of the Covid jab, it’s not too late.”

Modelling by the Academy of Medical Sciences suggests this winter hospital admissions and deaths from flu could be double that of a ‘normal’ year and could coincide with an increase of COVID-19 infections.

Here is what you need to know about who is eligible and how you can access Covid booster and annual flu vaccinations here in Devon.

Covid boosters:

Who can have the booster?
Booster vaccine doses are being offered to people most at risk from COVID-19 who have already had two doses of a vaccine more than 6 months (182 days) ago.
This includes:
• people aged 50 and over
• residents of care homes for older adults
• frontline health and social care workers
• people aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts them at high risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19
• carers aged 16 and over
• people aged 16 and over who live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis)
People who are pregnant and in one of the eligible groups above can also get a booster dose.

How can I get my booster?
The NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have a booster dose. It’s important not to contact the NHS for one before then.

You’ll be offered a booster dose at least 6 months(182 days) after you had your second dose.

Please wait to be contacted via letter, text or email before trying to book.

Once you have received your invitation, you can book using the National Booking Service or calling 119. Booster doses are currently only available through booked appointments.

Vaccine teams will visit care homes and offer both staff and residents the vaccine at the same time.

Where can I have the booster?
There are a range of sites where people can have their booster, including the Riviera International Centre in Torquay, Home Park stadium in Plymouth, Exeter Greendale, Newton Abbot Racecourse and Barnstaple Leisure Centre.

Other local sites include pharmacies and GP practices. Pop up vaccine will also be held, as has happened throughout the vaccination programme.

Can I have both the booster and flu vaccines at the same time?
It is safe to have the Covid-19 booster and flu vaccinations at the same time. This would involve having two separate jabs. If you have the Shingles vaccine you must wait one week before having your Covid-19 booster.

Many GPs are now focussing on their very busy workloads, but some are also continuing to offer Covid-19 vaccinations in addition to the annual flu vaccinations. If your practice is offering both, you may be able to have them together.

Covid-19 vaccine centres are not offering the flu vaccination. If you have your booster there you will need to book in for your flu jab elsewhere.

I’m housebound. How can I have the booster and my flu vaccination?

There is very high demand for home visits and we request that people only ask for one if strictly necessary because they are been unable to access a healthcare setting. The CCG is working with GP’s Community Services and Vaccine Centres to offer home visits where strictly necessary and may not be covered by your GP. Please contact the Vaccine Support Team with confirmation of need for a home visit supported by your GP via d-ccg.devonvaccinationsupport@nhs.net and we will arrange this for you.

Flu Vaccines

Who can have a free NHS flu vaccine?
• all children aged 2 to 15 (but not 16 years or older) on 31 August 2021
• people aged six months to under 50 years with certain health conditions such as diabetes,liver disease or COPD
• all pregnant women (including those who become pregnant during flu season)
• people aged 50 years and over
• people living in long-stay residential care homes or other long-stay care facilities
• carers
• household contacts of immunocompromised individuals
• all frontline health and social care workers

Where can I get the flu vaccine?
If you are eligible you can have a free NHS flu vaccine at:
• your GP surgery
• a pharmacy offering the service
• your midwifery service if you’re pregnant
• a hospital appointment
• If you do not have your flu vaccine at your GP surgery, you do not have to tell the surgery. This will be done for you.
You can find a pharmacy near you offering the NHS flu vaccine online

If you are not eligible for a free NHS flu vaccine, you can still pay for one privately through your local pharmacy.

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