From Dr David Crichton, Chair of the Doncaster CCG
Over the last few weeks we have heard a lot around boosting our immunity to help protect people from viruses this winter. As we probably know, it is very easy to pass on these illnesses to people close to you, even without knowing it. I thought it would be useful to explain the two essential vaccines that are being offered this winter, which are the flu and the COVID-19 booster.
Across Doncaster the COVID-19 booster programme is now underway for all eligible people as an additional vaccine dose to people who have previously received two doses. This is a top up, to ensure continued protection for those most at risk from COVID-19 especially over the winter period. Those eligible for a booster dose of the vaccine include; those over 50s, people over 16 with an underlying health condition that might put them at high risk of getting seriously ill from Covid-19 and all health and social care workers. People will only be able to book an appointment for a booster dose if it’s been at least 6 months since their second dose of the vaccine.
Letters and texts are being sent from the NHS to prompt those eligible to book their appointment either on the NHS website or by calling 119. All eligible residents are urged to take up this invitation as soon as it arrives to maximise their protection over the winter. For those who have not yet received their first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, you still can and we urge that you book an appointment straight away.
This year also sees the biggest flu programme in history which is now well underway in Doncaster, this helps protect you and your family and those at risk from getting seriously ill from flu. On average the flu virus kills almost 11,000 people and hospitalises tens of thousands more in England each year. Evidence suggests that this winter more people are likely to get flu as fewer people will have built up any natural immunity to the virus during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you catch flu and COVID-19 at the same time, research shows you’re even more likely to become seriously ill and that vaccination against both will provide protection for you and those around you. The flu vaccine is given free on the NHS to people:
- who are 50 and over (including those who’ll be 50 by 31 March 2022),
- have certain health conditions
- are pregnant
- are in long-stay residential care
- receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
- 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)
- frontline health or social care worker
It is also important to remember that children can catch and spread flu easily and vaccinating them also protects others who are vulnerable, such as babies and older people. The nasal spray vaccine offers the best protection for children aged 2 to 17 years and is available free for:
- children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2021 – born between 1 September 2017 and 31 August 2019
- all primary school children (reception to year 6)
- all year 7 to year 11 children in secondary school
- children aged 2 to 17 years with long-term health conditions
As we see infection rates increase across the borough, the NHS strongly urges everyone who is eligible to please book in for their flu vaccine, COVID-19 jabs and booster dose and to also encourage friends and family to do the same to ensure we are protected this winter.
We can also help protect ourselves this winter by remembering to wash hands thoroughly on a regular basis and to always wear face coverings in all healthcare settings such as GP practices, hospitals and crowded public places