Anyone in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire who is eligible for the Covid-19 autumn booster should book their vaccination appointment now.
That is the message coming from the region’s health leaders as the latest appointment data shows a worrying decline in the number of people actively arranging their Covid-19 vaccinations.
As it stands, vaccine uptake among people aged 65 and over is generally quite good, but considerably less so for those in the 50 to 64-years-old age group.
There have also been fewer people who are considered at-risk, such as those with weakened immune systems, coming forward in this latest phase than at previous points in the vaccination journey.
The Covid-19 autumn booster is intended to provide people who are more susceptible to falling seriously ill with coronavirus an added layer of protection during the winter months.
Getting boosted also helps to stop the virus being passed from person to person, which can prevent the spread of future infections.
Gill May, Chief Nurse, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board, said: “With winter just around the corner, and with the prospect of a flu and Covid-19 double-whammy a very real possibility, it is extremely concerning that fewer people are coming forward to get vaccinated.
“Both of these viruses have the potential to cause very serious problems to even the healthiest of people, but especially those in our communities who are older or vulnerable.
“I know that many think Covid-19 has gone away, and that catching it is similar to having a cold, but that just isn’t the case, and we need to act now to ensure that those who could see themselves end up in hospital if they get this terrible virus are protected.
“Booking a coronavirus vaccination is easy and straightforward, and the vaccine itself is a safe and proven way of keeping yourself and those around you protected from the brutal toll that Covid-19 can take.”
All people currently eligible for a Covid-19 autumn booster also qualify for a free NHS flu jab, with some able to receive both vaccines at the same time.
Vaccinations for Covid-19 continue to be available from venues across the region, including Bath Racecourse, the Steam Museum in Swindon and Salisbury City Hall, while NHS flu jabs can be obtained from GP practices and most community pharmacies.
People who do not automatically qualify for a free flu jab can arrange to have their vaccine privately by booking the service at a high-street chemist or supermarket with an in-store pharmacy.
Having both vaccines will ensure people have the best possible chance of getting through the winter months, when the transmission of respiratory illnesses traditionally peak, without falling seriously ill.
More information about the local rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination, including an extensive list of frequently asked questions, can be found online at http://www.bsw.icb.nhs.uk.