Vaccinations against flu and Covid-19 have started today for those in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire most at risk of falling seriously ill.
Despite the unusually warm September weather, the winter vaccination programme, which had been due to start next month, has been brought forward following the identification of a new variant of Covid-19.
Care home residents across the region, as well as those patients who are housebound, will be visited by teams from local GP practices or dedicated community vaccinators from today, Monday 11 September.
All other eligible groups, such as people aged 65 and over, pregnant women and those with a weakened immune system, will be contacted directly from Monday 18 September to book an appointment at a GP practice or pharmacy.
The National Booking System, which is available online at http://www.nhs.uk or over the phone by calling 119, will also open on Monday 18 September for people who wish to proactively arrange their Covid-19 appointment.
Gill May, Chief Nurse, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board, said: “We all know the immeasurable difference that vaccination can make when it comes to Covid-19, and starting early gives us extra time to ensure the most vulnerable people in our communities are protected as we head towards winter.
“Both flu and Covid-19 can cause serious problems for even the healthiest of adults, and as the two viruses tend to become more prevalent during the colder months, when more of us spend more time indoors, it’s really important that those most at risk get protected.
“Having the vaccines not only gives a person’s immunity a much-needed boost, but also makes them less infectious to others, which is especially important right now, with new strains of both flu and Covid-19 on the horizon.”
Wherever possible, people should be able to receive the flu jab at the same time as their Covid-19 vaccine.
Getting protected against both flu and Covid-19 on a regular basis helps to keep immunity levels, which may have dipped since previous vaccinations, topped up.
Flu can affect people of all ages, and those not entitled to a free NHS vaccine, such as the under-65s, can still get protected by purchasing the vaccine from a high street chemist or a supermarket with an in-store pharmacy.