Vaccines are the best protection this winter

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

12 thoughts on “Vaccines are the best protection this winter

  1. I have been advised to get my Covid booster jab, but the centres for this in the Thorne area seem non existent.
    I cannot get through on the phone to my GP surgery in Thorne to find out when the flu vaccinations are available. This is a very poor service and I am most concerned about the vulnerable folk who do not have access to IT etc home.
    This GP service is a disgrace, they are letting the community down and I feel it does need investigating as a matter of urgency.

    1. Ken, if you are eligible for a flu jab you should get an invitation from your GP surgery or the national NHS asking you to choose a pharmacy to have it done. If you’re not eligible for a flu jab you can still get one at most high street chemists for a fee.
      Similarly, with the booster jab – if you are due this (no sooner than 6 months after your second covid vaccine and aged over 40) you should be contacted by your surgery to book an appointment. If you choose to visit one of our walk-in centres in Doncaster ( you may have to queue and it will depend on the vaccine supplies on the day – however, staff will be able to advise you at the site.

    1. Stephen, you will be invited for your booster jab when you are eligible. If the flu vaccine is available on the same day it will normally be possible to have that at the same time as your booster – without having to make a separate appointment. However, this is absolutely dependent on vaccine availability on the day. There is more information here:

  2. We’re eligible for our booster jabs but on clicking on the link in the text sent to me, places like Giggleswick and Pontefract come up! We live in Stainforth! Is it necessary to travel this far when apparently there is a vaccine centre in Church rd , Stainforth, next to Lonfgtoft school? No wonder the take up among the elderly is poor, when they have to take several buses, often in bad weather, to get the booster. Why don’t these links show the nearest to us. It was the same when we had the first vaccination- a nearby centre wasn’t even mentioned on the list! In any case our GP said they didn’t have supplies and wasn’t aware of the centre in Stainforth!

    1. Marion, if you are eligible for your booster jab – no sooner than 6 months after your second covid jab – you should be contacted by your own surgery to make an appointment. The national NHS has been sending out messages inviting people to book via the National Booking Service but this is no guarantee of getting a venue close to your home. We have a number of walk-in clinics in Doncaster but please note that you will have to prove your eligibility and may have to queue – depending on supplies and the number of people already booked. The details of these walk-ins, updated every week, are available here:

  3. I am a little worried about the covid booster jab after hearing of people dying from having their third jab. I am not confident that it is safe

    1. Colin, when you are eligible for your booster vaccine (6 months after your second dose) you should be contacted by your surgery or by the NHS on a text message or through the phone app to make an appointment. Similarly, if you are due a flu jab, your GP surgery or pharmacy will contact you to invite you.
      You may be able to get both jabs at the same appointment if the venue you go to has adequate supplies, otherwise you will have to have two separate appointments. You can also go to one of our walk-ins for a booster but if you don’t have an appointment you will have to prove your eligibility and be prepared to queue if it’s busy. There is more information here: I hope this is helpful. Kind regards, comms team

  4. It is difficult to get a booster locally. I live in Stainforth. Two of the venues which come up when I click the link aren’t even in use any more but they still appear. Appointments are rapidly snapped up. I was told that if I contacted my surgery they would book them, but it takes so long to get through on the phone there are none left. Plus, as elderly people we do not want to be gong to unfamiliar places, especially when it’s cold and dark! I would prefer Northfield surgery , Thorne ideally ,and maybe Dunsville, during the day. I’m surprised the major pharmacies in French gate aren’t being used for this ! It shouldn’t be so difficult to get a booster!

    1. Marion, sorry to hear you are having problems getting your booster jabs. Are you both eligible and due for a booster – 6 months after your second covid vaccination? If so, your own surgery should be in touch to invite you. You can also book through the NHS national booking site or by calling 119 but as you say, this doesn’t guarantee you a venue near to where you live. We have a number of walk-in clinics across Doncaster which are detailed here on our website: Kind regards, comms team

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