Lincolnshire people are being reminded about the importance of having their covid booster and flu vaccination, in anticipation of a winter season where both covid and flu will circulate together at the same time.
In a stark reminder about how critical it is for eligible people to get both vaccinations, research has shown those infected with both viruses are more than twice as likely to die as someone with covid alone.
The colder weather we would naturally expect over winter will help transmission of both flu and covid, and the increasingly darker nights will mean increased levels of social contact indoors in less well ventilated spaces, which combined could lead to a flu surge this winter, as well as rising covid cases.
A recent survey conducted by Opinium seeking views from 3,000 participants found that nearly one third (32%) were unaware that flu and covid can circulate at the same time, over a quarter (26%) did not know that flu can be fatal and over half (55%) underestimated the number of people who die from flu in an average year in England (which is approximately 11,000).
“Both these viruses are serious: they can both spread easily, cause hospitalisation and they can both be fatal. So, it’s vital that people in Lincolnshire get their vaccines as soon as they can,” explains Rebecca Neno, Director of Covid and Influenza Vaccination Programmes, NHS Lincolnshire CCG.
“For the first time we will have covid and flu co-circulating. Not many people got flu last year because of COVID-19 restrictions, so there isn’t as much natural immunity in our communities as usual. We will see flu circulate this winter; it might be higher than usual and that makes it a significant public health concern.”
The government’s Winter Vaccination campaign film highlights how much people are underestimating the combined threat of flu and COVID-19.
More than 60,000 covid booster vaccinations have been given to-date in Lincolnshire. People who are eligible, including all health and care staff, care home residents, people at risk, carers and people over the age of 50, will be invited by their GP or by the NHS as six months elapses after their second vaccine, and everyone is encouraged to book their appointment as soon as they receive their invitation.
There continues to be good demand for flu vaccinations too in Lincolnshire, and, whilst there has been some disruption to supply, overall we have good flu vaccine availability across the county.
This year, people who are eligible for the flu vaccination include those aged 50 plus, two and three-year olds, school children up to year 11, pregnant women, health and care staff, people who are at risk and households of immunosuppressed people. Anyone eligible can get their jab through their GP or by going to a community pharmacist.