Unpaid carers who are eligible for a free flu and Covid-19 booster vaccine are being urged to book their vaccination appointments now, to help protect themselves and the people they care for from getting seriously ill this winter (https://northeastnorthcumbria.nhs.uk/news/posts/nhs-issues-last-call-for-people-to-get-fully-protected-ahead-of-the-festive-season/).
Booking a flu and a Covid-19 booster vaccine via the National Booking Service will come to an end on 15 December. It can take up to 2 weeks to build up maximum protection after getting vaccinated, so booking an appointment now will mean that you can be protected in time for the Christmas holidays, particularly as flu and Covid-19 levels are expected to peak around Christmas time.
This information is summarised at https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/seasonal-health/keep-warm-keep-well/:
- Flu and Covid-19 booster vaccinations can be booked via the National Booking Service at https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/covid-19-services/covid-19-vaccination-services/book-covid-19-vaccination/ and https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/book-flu-vaccination/ (for community pharmacy appointments) but this offer closes on 15 December.
- You can continue to search for a pharmacy offering a flu vaccination at https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/prescriptions-and-pharmacies/pharmacy-nhs-flu-vaccine-service/.
- You can continue to search for a pharmacy offering a Covid-19 booster vaccine walk-in clinic at https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/covid-19-services/covid-19-vaccination-services/find-a-walk-in-covid-19-vaccination-site/ (however this offer may become limited).
In addition, any local pop-up clinics will be advertised at https://northeastnorthcumbria.nhs.uk/our-work/workstreams/health-and-prevention/covid-19-and-flu-programme/covid-19-and-flu-walk-in-vaccination-clinics/. On Monday 4 December, a winter vaccination pop-up clinic is being held from 10am – 1pm at Easington Social Welfare Centre, Easington Colliery.
Free winter vaccinations for carers living in County Durham
Getting your annual flu vaccination and your Covid-19 booster are two of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and the person you care for from these serious respiratory illnesses this winter. Covid-19 and flu are not like catching a cold. A carer with either of these respiratory viruses will find it very difficult to look after someone. They may also be worried about passing on the illness to the person they care for and may want to avoid being in contact with them. Unlike a cold, flu and Covid-19 can come on very suddenly so you may have little or no time to find someone to take over your caring responsibilities.
It is very important to top up your protection, even if you have had a vaccine or have been ill with flu or Covid-19 before, as immunity fades over time and both viruses can change each year.
Who is eligible for free winter vaccinations?
The NHS flu vaccination is available to carers who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or who are the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill. The NHS Covid-19 autumn booster is available to carers who are eligible for a carer’s allowance, or who are the sole or primary carer of an elderly or disabled person who is at increased risk of Covid-19 and therefore clinically vulnerable.
Why are these vaccinations so important?
For some, flu and Covid-19 are unpleasant illnesses. But for many, particularly those with certain health conditions, they can be very dangerous and even life threatening. Every winter, thousands die from flu and people can still get very ill or die from Covid-19. Catching both viruses at the same time increases the risk of serious illness even further. Getting both vaccines ahead of winter, when the viruses spread more easily, are two of the most important things you can do to keep yourself and others around you safe, so you can continue to be there for the people you care for.
Why do I need these vaccinations again?
It is important to top up your protection, even if you have had a vaccine or have been ill with flu or Covid-19 before, as immunity fades over time and both viruses can change each year. The NHS is encouraging people to get both vaccines in the same visit where possible, to get protected against both viruses.
Can these vaccinations give me flu or Covid-19?
The vaccinations given to adults contains inactivated, or killed, strains of the virus so they cannot cause flu or Covid-19. There are some fairly common but mild side effects that are unlikely to prevent a carer from caring, such as a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards.
How can I show that I’m a carer?
It is very important that your GP practice is aware that you are a carer. If you don’t receive a carer’s allowance then either complete the information from Durham County Carers Support at https://dccarers.org/gp-carers-register/ as part of our assessment process, or alternatively, Carers UK has produced a template letter at https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/health/looking-after-your-health/register-as-an-unpaid-carer-with-your-gp-template-letter. County Durham pharmacies are aware that if you do not receive a carers allowance then you can show the pharmacy your current County Durham Carers Card instead.
How do I get these vaccinations?
You can wait to be contacted by your GP practice or see How to get your NHS winter vaccinations at https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/seasonal-health/keep-warm-keep-well/:
- NHS Covid-19 vaccinations can be booked via the National Booking Service at https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/covid-19-services/covid-19-vaccination-services/ for community pharmacy appointments or walk-in clinics.
- NHS flu vaccinations can be booked at a community pharmacy via https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/prescriptions-and-pharmacies/pharmacy-nhs-flu-vaccine-service/.
Where can I find more information?