To Top Up or Not To Top Up

By Sanjith Kamath, Executive Medical Director at St Andrew’s Healthcare (

As the clocks are due to go back and the nights draw in, many people are still questioning whether they should be rolling their sleeves up for their COVID-19 booster and flu jab.

With the colder months fast approaching more time will be spent indoors, so there is a risk, if not managed properly, that COVID-19 could increase.

But it’s important to remember that for those who have chosen not to have the COVID-19 vaccine it is not too late.

Those who have been vaccinated, they are far less likely to be significantly unwell or requiring hospitalisation should they test positive for COVID-19.

We now have four COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK and rigorous clinical trials have been carried out to check they’re safe.

All attention is now on top ups or booster doses which are being offered to people who are more vulnerable to the virus. Six months or more after receiving their second dose, everyone aged 50 and over, frontline health and social care workers and those aged between 16 and 49 with an underlying health condition will be invited for a booster vaccine.

All staff at St Andrew’s will be receiving their COVID-19 top up vaccine where appropriate and they will also be offered the flu jab too. The flu vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine, which is offered every year on the NHS to help protect people at risk of getting seriously ill from flu.

According to NHS England, more people are likely to get flu this winter 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, but being vaccinated against both conditions will provide protection for you and those around you.

Things were very uncertain this time last year with COVID-19 numbers going up and down in different areas across the country. Since the pandemic hit the UK we’ve had three lockdowns. Our schools shut down, social lives were halted and many of us were unable to see friends and family.

Now, shops, restaurants, theatres and cinemas are back open. We can see our loved ones again. Our children are back in school and learning. The COVID-19 vaccine is the key to our freedom and I urge anyone who may still be wondering whether it’s safe to look at the facts.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that as of October 3, a total of 6,188,903,420 vaccine doses have been administered.

According to a recent report by Public Health England the COVID-19 vaccination programme has directly averted more than 230,800 hospitalisations, it has prevented between 23.7 and 24.1 million infections and between 119,500 and 126,800 deaths. With those figures, I find it hard to argue why you wouldn’t have the vaccine.

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