British doctor and television presenter Dr Ranj Singh has urged all older people in UK to get their Covid booster jabs and flu vaccinations ahead of winter.
He joined charity Age UK and warned that there will be a ‘particularly nasty flu strain’ in circulation this winter.
British health officials on Wednesday warned that increased circulation of flu and a resurgence in Covid-19 could lead to a difficult winter that increases pressure on the already stretched National Health Service (NHS).
The government ended coronavirus restrictions earlier this year, meaning that social contact rates have returned to near pre-pandemic norms while immunity to flu is relatively low.
“It was ‘really important’ that all older people should get both jabs to avoid the risk of developing both illnesses at the same time. It can be really dangerous for vulnerable people. Sadly this year it seems that we may be expecting a particularly nasty flu strain and even though it may feel like coronavirus has gone away to a certain degree I would still encourage all older people to get both their Covid-19 and flu vaccine booster, as soon as they can. It is still really important,” he was quoted as saying by The Independent.
“Both those vaccinations need topping up to be most effective, especially as we move into autumn and winter and viruses start to thrive again.”
He further said that catching the flu and Covid-19 viruses at the same time can be really dangerous for vulnerable people but getting jabs will help to prevent hospitalisation and serious illnesses.
“I am supporting Age UK in their call for all older people to have both vaccinations when they are called, messaged or written to by the NHS,” Dr Singh added.
According to the NHS, all over-50s are among those most at risk. It updated guidance to offer a further dose of the Covid-19 booster and a flu vaccine this autumn for this age
Older people and those with particular health conditions are most at risk from flu and Covid-19. Pandemic restrictions kept flu cases low in the past two years but experts expect flu to return as a significant risk during winter.
As many as 22,000 people died of flu in 2017/2018 the highest death toll in recent years and around 10 per cent of the victims were aged 60 and over. The average death toll due to flu was 11,000 per year in the country.
According to the NHS, unpaid carers, residents of older adult care homes, health and social care staff and household contacts of people with weakened immune systems are also eligible for flu vaccine this year.
Around 33 million people are eligible for a free flu vaccine this year, and 26 million are eligible for a Covid-19 booster. The elderly and clinically vulnerable are eligible for both, and young children can get flu shots.
Charity director of Age UK Caroline Abrahams has urged people to take the jab as millions of older people have already utilised the opportunity of having the spring booster
“It’s perfectly safe to have them together, and often more convenient too. However, you are offered the choice of having them singly or together when you attend. So, whenever you are called for vaccination please do accept – you’ll be doing yourself some good and helping to protect everyone else you come into contact with too,” said Abrahams.