As this Winter approaches, we all need to take extra steps to protect ourselves, our friends and family, and the NHS. That means taking up the Covid vaccination when offered and getting the flu jab too. One of the effects of the pandemic is that our usual mixing has been curtailed. I’ve certainly found an increase in colds and sniffles as I have gone out and about. Lower natural immunity from increased physical separation and protection measures makes us a bit more vulnerable to everyday infections, so this year it is important to get the flu jab too.
Different parts of the population are at different stages of the Covid vaccination rollout. From this week, all Teens (12-18) are now able to book on the national booking system. Anyone over 50 and those over 16 with certain health conditions will become eligible for a booster jab from 6 months after their second jab. Notifications are sent out weekly by the NHS so please don’t panic if it takes up to a week after that 6 month date from your last injection date to get notified or be able to book in. The Vaccines Minister has confirmed again in Parliament this week that the scientific evidence is that immunity doesn’t ‘fall off a cliff’, it is a gradual reduction over time. For the housebound and care homes, these are being managed locally as they were previously between the relevant GP practices and local vaccinators. For people who are immunosuppressed, for example some cancer or transplant cases, there is also a third jab offered. Referrals for this are made by GPs and consultants.
I have been energetic in supporting more Covid vaccination centres for our area. There is the Clockwork Pharmacy in Deal, the Dover Health Centre and a new vaccination site at Whitfield Village Hall that has been approved. This is in addition to the large scale sites at Folkestone, Westwood Cross and Canterbury that can be accessed locally as well.
The flu jab is free for those who are 50 or over, and for others including pregnant women and frontline NHS and care workers. It is available extensively and can be booked online or walk-in at pharmacies, just check for local availability.
From measles to polio to HPV, we are extremely fortunate to be in a country where we have access to advanced medicine that protects babies, children and adults alike from conditions that kill and maim in other countries. It is absolutely right that we continue to work globally to support the availability of such vaccines to poorer countries. But it is also our responsibility to take up the vaccinations, where there is no medical reason not to do so. They are there to protect us all, including reducing the transmission rate of dangerous diseases for people who are medically vulnerable and unable to vaccinate themselves. Please do book in for the jabs and help create that protective net around us all this Winter.