Age UK is urging eligible older people to do all they can to stay well and have their COVID-19 and flu vaccinations, as soon as they can.
Studies show that older people and particularly those with health conditions are most at risk from the serious impacts of flu and COVID-19. It is vital that older people protect themselves as soon as they can.
The official total number of positive COVID-19 cases in England rose sharply over summer by 102,230 from 1 July to 1 October 2023. Heading into Autumn, we continued to see a rise of cases by 44,678 cases and people being admitted to hospital as a result. Since July 2023, there has been a rise of 42,754 COVID-19 hospital admissions, with 72% (30,209) of these admissions being older people aged over 65.
Having flu and COVID-19 vaccinations provides vital protection for those eligible and keeps people from developing serious illnesses, helping to minimise hospitalisations.
Age UK’s most recent polling shows a high number of people aged 50+ are reacting positively to the possibility of having the latest booster and annual flu jabs: It showed:
• 79% of older people who are eligible intend to get the Covid-19 vaccine this winter.
• 86% of older people who are eligible intend to get the flu vaccine this winter.
Unpaid carers, frontline health and social care staff and household contacts of people with a weakened immune system are also eligible for flu and COVID-19 vaccinations. In addition, those aged under 65 with certain health conditions are also eligible.
You may be invited to have your vaccinations by your local team but you can also go online to NHS.uk, use the NHS App or call 119 to book your free NHS vaccines. Some pharmacies will also be delivering NHS vaccines, so check with your local pharmacy.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said: “Covid-19 is still circulating, and flu poses a threat every winter, so I would encourage every older person to get both jabs, and as soon as you can. It’s perfectly safe to have them together and often more convenient too, but if you would prefer to have them separately then you can choose that approach instead.
“Flu vaccines help protect against the main types of flu viruses and although there’s still a chance we might get flu even after vaccination, the symptoms are likely to be milder and more short-lived.
“Vaccinations are the best defence there is against having our health badly undermined this winter, so I cannot overstate how important it is that everyone who is eligible actually receives them. With all the worries about the rising cost of living and energy prices it’s more important than ever to stay fit and well this year, and getting these vaccinations will help.”
National Clinical Director for Older People and Integrated Person Centred Care for NHS England, Dr Adrian Hayter said: “This year, the NHS has been delivering the life-saving flu vaccine at its fastest ever rate, with over 13 million flu and 10 million covid vaccines having already been administered.
“Getting your covid and flu vaccines as we head into winter is one of the best ways to prevent older people from getting seriously unwell from seasonal viruses. We have hundreds of thousands of vaccine appointments available, so I urge everyone eligible to please come forward and book your vaccinations today.