The NHS in Gloucestershire is urging people to come forward for their seasonal vaccinations as soon as they are invited to ensure they are protected from potentially serious illness this winter.

GPs and community NHS teams across the county are offering the COVID-19 and flu vaccines to people who are most at risk of getting very ill.

The following groups are eligible for one or both vaccines:

  • over-50s (COVID booster and flu jab)
  • people under 50 with certain health conditions (COVID booster and flu jab)
  • people who 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 (COVID booster and flu jab)
  • health and social care workers (COVID booster and flu jab)
  • pregnant women (flu jab)
  • two- and three-year olds (flu nasal spray)
  • primary school and secondary school pupils up to year 11 (flu nasal spray, delivered via the school vaccination programme).

The bulk of COVID boosters and flu vaccinations continue to be provided by appointment through the 11 GP-led community vaccination centres and some GP practices across the county. Local GP services will be in touch if they haven’t already.

People will also have the choice to arrange their flu vaccination with their local pharmacy or use the National Booking System (NBS) website or phone number to book their COVID-19 booster at one of six community pharmacies around the county.

Dr Andy Seymour, Clinical Chair, NHS Gloucestershire CCG, said:

“Our vaccination teams are working hard across the county to invite people for their flu vaccination and COVID booster as soon as possible. If you’re eligible for one or both of these vaccines, it’s really important to take up the offer as soon as you’re invited to reduce your risk of becoming seriously unwell.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation have confirmed that adults can have their COVID booster and flu vaccination at the same time, so you may be offered both at the same appointment, subject to supplies. Please don’t delay getting your flu vaccine if it hasn’t yet been six months since your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine; it’s really important to make sure you’re protected against what can be a nasty illness as soon as you can.”

Professor Sarah Scott, Director of Adult Social Care and Public Health, Gloucestershire County Council added:

As we head into the autumn and winter months, it’s more important than ever that we all take steps to protect ourselves, which includes taking up the offer of vaccinations if you’re eligible. Our most vulnerable residents are at higher risk of becoming seriously unwell over winter and it’s also a challenging time for our NHS and social care services. With COVID-19 still circulating within our communities it’s likely that this year will be more challenging than previous years.

Vaccines remain the best protection we have against COVID-19 as well as other serious seasonal viruses like flu. If you’re eligible for the COVID-19 booster, flu jab (or both) this winter, I urge you to take up the offer as soon as possible.”

If you are eligible but haven’t yet had your first or second dose of the COVID vaccine yet, you can still take up the offer; just follow the instructions in your original invitation from local GP services, use the national booking system to get an appointment at a community pharmacy (www.nhs.uk/covidvaccination or call 119) or look out for drop-in clinics.

The school vaccination programmes for flu (primary and secondary schools up to year 11) and COVID-19 single doses (12 to 15-year olds) are also underway. Community NHS services will be in touch with parents of children in this age group soon, if they haven’t already, with details of the offer for both vaccines to be delivered through schools.

John Trevains, Director of Nursing, Therapies and Quality at Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“We have a strong history of providing vaccinations to young people in Gloucestershire, and we have been working on plans to deliver the COVID vaccine to this age group for some time, pending the outcome of national discussions and decisions. The roll out is now underway and going very well, thanks to the support of schools, parents and of course the young people themselves.

If you have not yet heard from us, our team will be in touch with parents, guardians or carers in the coming weeks to seek consent in line with existing school vaccination programmes.”

Local people can get the latest information about the winter vaccination programme, the ‘evergreen’ offer for first and second doses, and find details of upcoming COVID vaccine drop-in sessions on the NHS Gloucestershire COVID-19 website.