Read below for more information on why it’s important to get vaccinated this winter.
Questions on the flu and seasonal Covid-19 vaccines
If you are eligible for the flu or seasonal Covid-19 vaccines it is important to top up your protection, even if you have had a vaccine or been ill with flu or Covid-19 before, as immunity fades over time and the viruses change each year.
The vaccines give you additional protection to that gained from previous infections. If you have recently had Covid-19 you will still get extra protection from the vaccine, but you will need to wait four weeks before getting vaccinated.
The flu and seasonal Covid-19 vaccines will reduce the chance of you becoming severely unwell and may help you recover more quickly if you catch the viruses. It may take a few days for your body to build up some extra protection from the vaccines.
Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective – some people may still get flu or Covid-19 despite having the vaccinations, but any infection should be less severe.
The seasonal Covid-19 vaccine is given to top up the protection in those at higher risk from severe illness to help prevent people being hospitalised or dying from Covid-19 this winter. During the pandemic, Covid-19 disproportionately affected those in older age groups, residents in care homes for older adults, and those with certain underlying health conditions, particularly those who are severely immunosuppressed which is why we vaccinate them regularly to ‘top up’ their protection.
There are very few people who should not have the flu and seasonal Covid-19 vaccines. If you have had a severe reaction to a previous dose of the vaccines, or any of their ingredients, you should discuss this with your doctor or pharmacist.
If you are allergic to eggs you may not be able to have certain types of flu vaccine – check with your immuniser. If you have a fever, the vaccination may be delayed until you are better.
If you are unwell, wait until you have recovered to have your vaccines. You should not attend an appointment if you have a fever or think you might be infectious to others.
If you think you’ve already had flu or Covid-19, once you’ve recovered you should get the vaccines as they will still help protect you.
No, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advises that the seasonal vaccine should be offered no earlier than three months after completion of the primary vaccine course.
Only children aged 6 months to 4 years old who are at increased risk of getting seriously ill from Covid-19 can currently get a first or second Covid-19 vaccine.
Since the end of the spring 2023 vaccination campaign, the focus has been on offering a first or second Covid-19 vaccine to those at higher risk and only during seasonal campaigns. This means during this year’s autumn/winter vaccination programme, those eligible for the first or second Covid-19 vaccine will be the same as those eligible for the seasonal vaccine.
The main exception to this is unvaccinated people aged 5 years and above who become or have recently become severely immunosuppressed. These people should be considered for the first and second vaccines, regardless of the time of year. Speak to your GP if this applies to you or someone you care for and they will use their clinical judgement to decide on the best time to begin vaccination.
No, all Covid-19 vaccines authorised for use by the NHS are effective and provide a strong booster response. When you attend your appointment, the NHS will offer you a safe, effective vaccine.
In very rare cases if you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to one of the common vaccines you may be referred to a specialist clinic for an alternative Covid-19 vaccine.
If you experience any adverse reactions or allergies to the Covid-19 vaccination, please consult your GP. They will be able to conduct an assessment and complete a referral form if necessary. The North East London Covid-19 Allergy Service is provided by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.