Public Health news: Vaccinations
Information on vaccinations for Winter 2022
Flu and Covid-19 vaccinations are important this autumn and winter because:
- more people are likely to get flu as fewer people will have built up natural immunity to it during the COVID-19 pandemic
- if you get flu and COVID-19 at the same time, research shows you're more likely to be seriously ill
- getting vaccinated against flu and COVID-19 will provide protection for you and those around you for both these serious illnesses
If you've had COVID-19, it's safe to have the flu vaccine. It will still be effective at helping to prevent flu. Some people may be eligible for both the flu and the COVID-19 booster vaccines. If you are offered both vaccines, it's safe to have them at the same time.
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 workers
You can have the 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. It's important to go to your vaccination appointments unless you have symptoms of COVID-19.
Flu Vaccine for Pregnant Women
It's recommended that all pregnant women have the flu vaccine, whatever stage of pregnancy they're at. This is because there is good evidence that pregnant women have a higher chance of developing complications if they get flu, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy.
One of the most common complications of flu is bronchitis, a chest infection that can become serious and develop into pneumonia. If you have flu while you're pregnant, it could cause your baby to be born prematurely or have a low birthweight, and may even lead to stillbirth or death.
Women who have had the flu vaccine while pregnant also pass some protection on to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives. It's also safe for women who are breastfeeding to have the vaccine.
The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, before flu starts circulating. Do not worry if you find that you're pregnant later in the flu season - you can have the vaccine then if you have not already had it. Contact your midwife or GP surgery to find out where you can get the flu vaccine. It's a good idea to get vaccinated as soon as possible after the vaccine becomes available in September.
Flu Vaccines for 2-3year Olds
Flu is a common infection in babies and children and can be very unpleasant for them. Children under the age of 5 have the highest hospital admission rates for flu compared to other age groups. When flu comes round this autumn/winter, more young children are likely to catch it than usual. This is because the COVID-19 restrictions also stopped flu circulating and young children in particular won't have natural immunity from catching flu before.
All children aged 2 and 3 years old (on 31 August before flu vaccinations start in the autumn) are eligible for a free flu vaccination in the form of a nasal spray. This is usually given at the GP practice.
There are five great reasons to get your child vaccinated:-
- Protect your child - against flu and serious complications such as bronchitis or pneumonia
- Protect you, your family and friends
- No injection needed - A nasal spray is given instead
- It's better than having flu
- Avoid costs - if your child becomes ill you may have to take time off work or arrange alternative childcare
With lots of people in confined environments and close mixing, universities can be hot spots for COVID, measles, mumps and meningococcal disease as they present the perfect opportunity for infection to spread.
We hope students enjoy college or university and want to help them stay fit and well during their studies. All students who have not already done so should make sure they are up to date with vaccinations.
- Meningococcal disease causes meningitis and/or septicaemia (blood poisoning) and can be very severe. If you are under 25 years of age and have not yet had the MenACWY vaccine please ask your GP practice about this.
- Don't let measles or mumps ruin your time at university. You can help to protect yourself and stop the spread by checking with your GP that you have had 2 doses of the MMR vaccine.
- Make sure you know the main signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease (meningitis and/or septicaemia) and how to get help or advice if you or one ofyour friends feels very unwell, especially if you are getting worse.
Monkeypox is a rare illness caused by the monkeypox virus and one of the symptoms is a rash that is sometimes confused with chickenpox. If you get infected with monkeypox, it usually takes between five and 21 days for the first symptoms to appear. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.
A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body. The rash changes and goes through different stages - a bit like chicken pox - before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.
The virus can spread if there is close contact between people through:
- touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with the monkeypox rash
- touching monkeypox skin blisters or scabs
- the coughs or sneezes of a person with the monkeypox rash
The majority of cases in England are located in London and a notable proportion have been in in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. and so UKHSA is urging this community in particular to be alert to any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay.
A small pox vaccine is being offered to those who are more likely to have very close or frequent contact with someone with Monkeypox. As monkeypox is caused by a virus like smallpox, vaccines against smallpox prevent or reduce the severity of a monkeypox infection. The vaccine has a good safety profile and has been used successfully in other monkeypox outbreaks. In addition to protecting yourself, the vaccine may also help limit the transmission of the virus to your close contacts.
Local sexual health services are identifying those who are eligible for vaccination and will contact them. They are also working with local partners to ensure eligible people know how to access the vaccine.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) currently recommends vaccination for:-
- Healthcare workers caring for patients with confirmed monkeypox
- People who have already had close contact with a patient with confirmed monkeypox - ideally withing 4days
- Some gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. Your clinician will advise vaccination for you if you have multiple partners, participate in group sex or attend 'sex on premises' venues.