Find out if you're eligible for Covid and flu jabs as NHS battles 'twindemic'

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Health experts are warning Brits to get their covid-19 and flu jabs as soon as possible. (Image: Getty Images)
Health experts are warning Brits to get their covid-19 and flu jabs as soon as possible. (Image: Getty Images)

As the NHS battles to keep a lid on the 'twindemic' of spiralling flu cases and seasonal Covid surge, people are encouraged to do their bit by getting vaccinated.

According to latest figures, the number of patients in hospital in England soared by nearly 80 per cent over the Christmas break.

More than 3,740 people a day were hospitalised with flu in the seven days to December 25, up from more than 2,080 per day in the week before - a staggering increase of 79.4 per cent.

People in hospital with flu has rocketed sevenfold over the past month; with only 520 flu patients hospitalised each day in November.

NHS national medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis says: “Sadly, these latest flu numbers show our fears of a twindemic have been realised, with cases up sevenfold in just a month and the continued impact of Covid hitting staff hard, with related absences up almost 50 per cent on the end of November.”

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He added: “It is clear this is no time to be complacent and the risk of serious illness is very real. It is important that everyone eligible comes forward and gets their Covid and flu jabs at the earliest opportunity.”

Yet many entitled to the jabs are still yet to come forward.

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Find out if you're eligible for Covid and flu jabs as NHS battles 'twindemic'Anyone eligible for the flu vaccine can get it through their GP surgery. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

So far, the NHS says around 16 million people have had a covid booster while around 18 million have had a flu jab.

But there's still hundreds of thousands of people at risk - and more likely to become seriously ill - who haven't had the top-ups and may not be aware they have a condition that makes them eligible.

Professor Powis is calling on the public to check whether they or a loved one are entitled to a covid top-up due to an existing condition - and reminding people can self-declare to get their jab through the National Booking Service or their GP.

Anyone eligible for the flu vaccine can get it through their GP surgery, a pharmacy if over 18 and some maternity services if pregnant.

Who is eligible for the Covid jab?

People are able to get the booster because they are considered at risk by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

This includes pregnant women, people who have a learning disability or severe mental illness, or another condition that makes them eligible, such as diabetes, epilepsy, blood cancer and asthma. Other chronic conditions outlined in the government's Green Book (which has the latest information on vaccines and vaccination procedures).

Around 6.4 million people are eligible for the jab due to a medical condition, and while the NHS has now invited everyone, people are also able to self-declare if they think they should have been invited or, for example, because they have only recently become eligible.

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So far, around 350,000 people have self-declared as being at risk in order to get their jab.

Who is eligible for the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine is given free on the NHS to adults who:

  • Are 50 and over (including those who will be 50 by 31 March 2023)
  • Have certain health conditions
  • Are pregnant
  • Are in long-stay residential care
  • Receive a carer's allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
  • Live with someone who is more likely to get a severe infection due to a weakened immune system, such as someone living with HIV, someone who has had a transplant, or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis

Who is at increased risk from covid-19 - what the NHS says

People aged 16 years and over:

  • A long-term lung condition, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma (if you need steroid tablets) or cystic fibrosis
  • A long-term heart condition, such as congenital heart disease, chronic heart failure or atrial fibrillation
  • Long term kidney disease (CKD) stage 3, 4 or 5
  • A severe liver disease, such as cirrhosis
  • A long-term problem with the brain or nerves, such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, Huntington’s disease, myasthenia gravis, or a stroke or transient ischaemic attack
  • Severe or multiple learning disabilities (or being on the learning disability register), such as Down’s syndrome
  • Diabetes or another hormone disorder, such as Addison’s disease
  • A severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder

  • A weakened immune system, due to a medical treatment (such as steroid medicine, biological therapy, chemotherapy or radiotherapy), a condition (such as leukaemia), or from having an organ or bone marrow transplant
  • Problems with the spleen, having no spleen or having a condition that can affect the spleen (such as sickle cell disease)
  • Being severely obese (having a body mass index (BMI) over 40 or above.
  • Being pregnant (all stages)
  • Living in a long-stay nursing and residential care home as a younger adult.
Find out if you're eligible for Covid and flu jabs as NHS battles 'twindemic'It's worth checking if a member of the family is eligible for vaccination (Getty Images)

Children aged 5 to 15 years:

  • A long-term lung condition, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma (if you need steroid tablets) or cystic fibrosis
  • A long-term heart condition, such as congenital heart disease or chronic heart failure
  • A long-term condition of the kidney, liver or digestive system
  • A long-term problem with the brain or nerves, such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, an inherited condition or autism
  • Severe or multiple learning disabilities (or being on the learning disability register), such as Down’s syndrome
  • Diabetes or another hormone disorder, such as Addison’s disease
  • A weakened immune system, due to a medical treatment (such as steroid medicine, biological therapy, chemotherapy or radiotherapy), a condition (such as leukaemia), a genetic condition or from having an organ or bone marrow transplant
  • Problems with the spleen, having no spleen or having a condition that can affect the spleen (such as sickle cell disease)
  • A serious genetic condition that affects multiple systems in the body, such as mitochondrial disease
  • Being pregnant (all stages)
  • Living in a long-stay nursing and residential care home as a younger adult.

Paul Speed

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