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NHS urges people to book ‘lifesaving’ Covid and flu vaccines before Christmas

viruses spread more easily at Christmas, the NHS says (Peter Byrne/PA)
viruses spread more easily at Christmas, the NHS says (Peter Byrne/PA)

The NHS is urging anyone still eligible for Covid and flu vaccines to book an appointment and get potentially lifesaving protection ahead of Christmas.

Booking systems will close from December 15, making December 14 the last day to make a booking, with hundreds of thousands of appointments still available each week across England.

Vaccination is the best way for people to ensure they and their families are protected against flu and Covid at Christmas, when viruses spread more easily as people spend more time indoors.

This season, a record 4.5 million people have received their flu and Covid vaccines in the same appointment.

A total of 11,404,669 Covid and 16,190,661 flu vaccinations have been administered by the NHS in England since the beginning of the autumn campaign.

It is still possible to book vaccinations after December 15 through local NHS vaccination services, like pharmacies or walk-in sites.

However, there will be fewer Covid appointments, and people may need to travel further.

Parents should ensure that eligible children are protected against the flu with the nasal spray vaccine, as they are at a higher risk of catching and spreading the virus.

If caught, it can lead to serious problems like bronchitis and pneumonia, the NHS warned.

Steve Russell, national director for vaccinations and screening for NHS England, said: “It only takes a few moments to book your flu and Covid vaccines online – with thousands of eligible people having already taken up the offer this year and record numbers booking via the NHS app – but with just two weeks to go until online bookings close, we’re urging those who haven’t yet come forward to do so.

“NHS staff continue to deliver vaccines at more sites than ever before, and we’ve seen record numbers choosing to have their flu and Covid vaccines at the same time, making it even easier for people.”

Dr Jamie Lopez Bernal, consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA, said: “Getting vaccinated as soon as possible will help reduce your risk of getting seriously ill with flu or Covid this festive season.

“So in amongst getting sorted for Christmas, make time to prioritise your health by getting vaccinated.”