Experts warn of tough winter ahead, as flu vaccination programme ramps up

October 12th, 2021

Health experts have warned of a tough winter ahead, with flu circulating at the same time as Covid-19.

Dr Jenny Harries, head of the Health Security Agency, said that the upcoming winter is “uncertain” as flu will spread at the same time as coronavirus. Dr Harries, former deputy chief medical officer for England, urged people to get their flu vaccine, as the vaccination programme ramps up.

This year, more people than ever will be invited to have a flu vaccine and priority groups are also currently being invited for their Covid-19 booster jabs.

More than 40 million people in the UK will be offered a flu vaccine this year. This includes over 50s, pregnant women, health and care workers, younger adults with health conditions, primary school children and for the first time, all secondary school children up to the age of 16.

Dr Harries explained that this winter will be different to last year because there will be “significant amounts of Covid circulating as well as flu.” Last year, social mixing was reduced and lockdown measures were imposed, which meant that there were far fewer cases of flu.

As the winter looms, people are mixing more and there is a high risk of catching flu, as well as Covid, particularly in schools, colleges, busy workplaces and enclosed public spaces.

In an average winter in England, flu causes around 11,000 deaths. There are fears that this winter could be worse, as exposure was so low last year. Studies suggest that people who are infected with both Covid-19 and flu are more than twice as likely to die as those who only have Covid.

Speaking on the BBC, Dr Harries urged the public to remain cautious as winter weather approaches and encouraged anyone who hasn’t yet had the Covid vaccine to do so and for people who are eligible for a flu jab to have the injection in the coming weeks.

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