Health experts are encouraging people in Sefton to keep COVID-19 and flu in check with three tips to ensure you and your loved ones keep safe:
- 1. Get your COVID-19 and flu vaccines as soon as they are available to you, especially if you’re pregnant. For those who are eligible, COVID-19 boosters can now be pre-booked a month in advance for those who had their second jab five months ago
- 2. Test yourself regularly, support contact tracing and self-isolate for 10 days if positive
- 3. Continue to follow hands, face, space guidance
Dr Pete Chamberlain, local GP and chair of NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:
“The best way to protect against COVID-19 and flu is to get your vaccines as soon as they are available to you and if you’ve yet to have yours, it’s never too late.”
COVID-19 booster jabs are now being offered to anyone over 40 as well as to those in high risk groups, at least six months from their second vaccine. To make it easier and more convenient to get your booster, you can pre-book your vaccine a month in advance.
Margaret Jones, Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health, said:
‘While first and second vaccinations are still providing people with good levels of protection from the virus, a booster dose can give people longer term protection against getting seriously ill from COVID-19. If it’s been five months since you had your second jab, you can now pre-book to have your booster in another month’s time.”
Young people aged 16 and 17 can also now book their second vaccine, at least 12 weeks after their first. In addition, children aged between 12 and 15 can have their COVID-19 jab to help protect them and their loved ones. Most aged between 12 and 15 will be offered one jab, those with a condition that means they're at high risk from COVID-19 or who live with someone who is more likely to get infections, will be offered two.
Dr Rob Caudwell, local GP and chair of NHS Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:
“It’s amazing that so many people have had their COVID-19 vaccine, and we’re keen to see that success continue across all groups and for those who are eligible for the flu vaccine. Research has shown that you’re more likely to be seriously ill if you get flu and COVID-19 together at the same time. So, it’s really important you don’t delay and get your jabs as soon as they’re offered to you.”
The flu vaccine is being offered to anyone 50 or over, or who are in a high risk group including those who are pregnant to protect them and their baby, and also those who may be carers or work in frontline health and social care.
Flu vaccines are also being offered to younger people. Children from 2 to 15 and those aged up to 17 with certain health conditions can have the flu nasal spray, which is safe and effective. Parental consent is needed for children to have flu and COVID-19 vaccines. The flu vaccine is offered in school to primary and secondary school aged children. Young people aged 12-15 are also being offered the COVID-19 vaccine in school, or parents can use the National Booking Service to book an appointment for their child to receive the Covid vaccine at a community venue if they prefer.
Dr Chamberlain said:
“Children can catch and spread flu easily and older children can also catch and spread COVID-19. Vaccinating them also protects others who are vulnerable, such as older people and those with health conditions or who are pregnant. So, it is really important that parents support this by getting their children vaccinated.”
As well as getting your vaccines testing, tracing and self-isolating remain effective ways of stopping COVID-19 from spreading and preventing new variants of the virus from emerging.
Margaret Jones said:
“Taking part in regular testing, assisting in contacting others who may be infected, and self-isolating for 10 days if you test positive - even if you have been double-jabbed - will all help us to manage the virus and stop new variants emerging.”
In addition, continuing to follow ‘hands, face, space’ remains an effective way of controlling the spread of both COVID-19 and flu, even if you are fully vaccinated.
Dr Caudwell advises:
“Wash your hands regularly throughout the day and after you’ve blown your nose or been to the toilet. Wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed places, where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet. If you are meeting friends and family, if possible, meet outdoors or let fresh air in if you are meeting indoors.”
Margaret Jones adds:
“As we approach the festive season many of us may be planning on taking our children to meet friends or relatives who may be elderly or live in other parts of the country, or we may be planning activities in busy places we don’t usually go to. Therefore, the potential for further spread of COVID-19 or flu is increased. Following these tips will help to reduce the risk of catching and spreading COVID-19 and flu and help us to manage these viruses.”
For more information on flu, who can have the jab free on the NHS and where you can get the flu jab
More information about the COVID-19 booster programme and how to get your COVID-19 vaccine is available on www.nhs.uk/coronavirus-vaccination or by calling 119.