Television presenter Dr Ranj Singh has urged all older people to get their Covid booster and flu vaccinations “as soon as they can”, as he warned of a “particularly nasty flu strain” this winter.
The NHS doctor, columnist, author and presenter who regularly appears on ITV’s This Morning, has joined charity Age UK in expressing the importance of getting both vaccines this autumn.
Experts are particularly concerned about the spread of the flu virus this winter, as fewer people have built up the necessary immunity to the disease after a few winters of socialising less due to the pandemic.
The number of flu infections in Australia has also caused worry, with a higher rate of infection this year compared to the five-year average.
The NHS has therefore updated their guidance to suggest that all over-50s be offered a further dose of the Covid-19 booster and a flu vaccine this autumn, as they are among those most at risk.
Dr Ranj said it was “really important” that all older people should get both jabs to avoid the risk of developing both illnesses at the same time, which he warned “can be really dangerous for vulnerable people”.
He added: “Sadly this year it seems that we may be expecting a particularly nasty flu strain and even though it may feel like coronavirus has gone away to a certain degree I would still encourage all older people to get both their Covid-19 and flu vaccine booster, as soon as they can. It is still really important.
“Both those vaccinations need topping up to be most effective, especially as we move into autumn and winter and viruses start to thrive again.”
In the year 2017/2018, 22,000 people died of influenza in England, which represented the highest death toll in recent years. Nearly 2,000 of those who died of the disease were aged 60 and over.
Those eligible for a Covid booster and a flu vaccine this year also include unpaid carers, residents of older adult care homes, health and social care staff and household contacts of people with weakened immune systems.
Charity director of Age UK Caroline Abrahams said: “Speaking as someone who has already had the double jab, because my GP surgery was in the vanguard, my advice to older people is please do take up the offer of the Covid-19 booster and a flu jab when it comes your way.
“Millions of older people took the opportunity of having the spring booster, so we are urging everyone to do the same this autumn.
“It’s perfectly safe to have them together, and often more convenient too – I chose to do it that way so I wouldn’t have to go back. However, you are offered the choice of having them singly or together when you attend.
“So, whenever you are called for vaccination please do accept – you’ll be doing yourself some good and helping to protect everyone else you come into contact with too.”