The Health Secretary is urging people to have their flu and Covid-19 booster vaccines after experts predicted the viruses could push the health service to breaking point this winter.
The Government has launched the biggest flu programme in the NHS’s history, with more than 35 million people in England eligible for a free vaccine.
Covid booster jabs are also being rolled out, with around 1.7 million people given these third jabs so far and around 28 million people in England eligible.
The Covid booster must be given no earlier than six months after a second dose of any coronavirus vaccine, according to guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
As the weather gets cooler, experts are calling on people to take up the offer of a flu and/or Covid booster when the NHS contacts them, and not to delay having either jab.
In some regions, people may be offered the Covid jab in one arm and the flu vaccine in the other on the same day, although this will not be available in every area.
Last winter, there were very few hospital admissions for flu as people social distanced but the health service is braced for a big surge in the coming months due to a lack of population immunity, people meeting more indoors and cooler temperatures helping the virus spread.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “This year we are rolling out the largest flu vaccine programme in our history, alongside the new Covid-19 booster vaccine rollout; both are important to provide vital protection not only to yourself, but also your loved ones while also helping to ease pressure on the NHS.
“The Covid-19 vaccine programme is a fantastic example of how successful vaccination programmes can be – with around 130,000 lives saved.
“It is vital we continue that incredible progress with all those eligible ensuring they get both their flu and Covid-19 booster injections as soon as they are invited.”