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NHS urges people across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to 'book your flu jab today'

“DON’T delay, book your flu jab today.”

That was the NHS’s plea to Hampshire and Isle of Wight residents as the area faces its first winter after most Covid-19 restrictions were lifted.

Those eligible are being urged to book their vaccination straight away and not wait until they are invited for their coronavirus booster, which cannot be given until at least six months after the second jab.

People are warned the flu is likely to spread more virulently this winter as lockdowns last year would have lessened collective immunity.

The NHS flu vaccination is offered for free to at-risk groups
The NHS flu vaccination is offered for free to at-risk groups

Each year the vaccination is given for free to help protect those most at risk, including over-65s as well as under-65s with long-term conditions, and their loved ones.

It has been expanded since last year to include people living with someone who's at high risk from coronavirus, children in Year 7, and, from 1st December, people aged 50-64 without a long-term condition.

The highly infectious illness spreads from person to person, infecting the respiratory system, where it can lead to pneumonia and other complications.

Annual vaccination is strongly advised as flu viruses constantly change. Symptoms, which come on very quickly, include fever, chills, headaches, aches and pains in the joints and muscles, and extreme tiredness.

Dr Nigel Watson, the region’s clinical lead for the Covid-19 vaccination programme, said: “Many people will not be eligible to have the booster jab until early next year so it is important that people get their flu jabs now.

“The best time to have the flu vaccine is now before the flu virus starts spreading. Unfortunately, more people are likely to get flu this winter, as fewer people will have built up natural immunity to it during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Getting vaccinated against flu and Covid-19 will provide protection for you and those around you.”

The NHS will contact people directly when their Covid booster is due.

The flu jab is available at GP surgeries, selected pharmacies, midwifery services, or through hospital appointments.

Pharmacies offering the vaccine can be found online at bit.ly/3myhLqy

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