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Why you should get both your Covid and flu jabs this winter

20 Oct 2022 | Written by By Kathy Feest

 

Photograph of a gloved hand holding out three needles, against a dark beige background

The Joy Club member Kathy Feest stresses the importance of getting both your Covid and flu jabs this winter. She provides guidance and resources for those looking to book their boosters.


“I’ve had mine, have you had yours yet?” It’s a question we keep asking each other at the moment. Of course, I’m referring to the jabs. Both of them. Covid Booster and Flu. These are both important to help us through the winter and – if not totally avoid – at least side step the worst that Covid or the flu can throw  at us.

It is sadly true that our immune systems aren’t what they once were, and that’s why we older folks are being offered these vaccinations now.

And yes I’ve had mine! Both of them. One week apart.

The Covid booster

Getting the Covid booster reminded me of where we’ve been! My husband and I booked together and pitched up at our local pharmacy, which had been set up as a mini vaccination centre, a smaller version of the big hubs that were around when we got our first covid jabs all that time ago.  

We stood outside the pharmacy doors, masked up and socially distanced. We were handed clipboards and a pen by a masked assistant and they were wiped down with disinfectant after each use. 

It reminded me of the bad old Covid days. When we didn’t go out, didn’t mix with anyone, stood well away, and when we went for our daily walk, we wore masks.  Avoiding people on the street or side stepping away from each became the norm. It brought all those memories tumbling back and made me realise how much I don’t want any of us to return to that world again!  

The world…and Covid…has changed since those dreadful times, but Covid has NOT gone away. It’s changed its tune, and thankfully, the scientists and health care professionals that got us this far are defending us once again from the most virulent of viruses.  

The Covid booster is the latest in the scientists’ armoury. “Why do we need yet another jab?” you may ask…“many of us have had several already.”  This is my fourth and my husband’s fifth. 

The original Omicron virus was thwarted by the extraordinary vaccine campaign. Over 53 million people in the UK, about 94% of those aged over twelve, received the first vaccine, over 50 million or 88% have received the second and so far more than 40 million have received boosters. 

With that level of vaccination in the general population, the original Covid virus is finding it difficult to find people to infect. So it morphs into a different variant. The latest vaccine has been produced to include protection against the original virus as well as the new variants. 

By either having had Covid, or earlier vaccines, our antibodies and T Cells are primed to respond positively when we encounter the virus. However, with time, our protection, especially our antibody response, wanes. A further vaccination boosts our protection. Hence they call it a booster! (Although the latest covid vaccination is also adding new protection against the most recently discovered variants.)  

The ONS data make it abundantly clear that people who have received  the vaccine booster are less likely to become infected, and if you are unfortunate enough to encounter the illness, you will not be as unwell. Boosters offer excellent protection for us over 65s! Of course those who are immunocompromised don’t have the same capacity to fend off any virus, and that’s why they have already been offered extra boosters.

Those who have foregone the vaccine are more likely to become seriously ill than those who are vaccinated, if they become infected. The ONS figures are stark.  Those who are unvaccinated are 15 times more likely to die of Covid than those who are vaccinated.

It is easy and convenient to book your jabs. Simply go to the NHS website and scroll down to make an appointment. It also lists places which do walk-in appointments – no booking necessary. 

The flu jab

Another potentially dangerous virus that needs to be avoided this winter is the flu. Our older immune systems don’t respond as well to the flu as our younger bodies once did. Sadly, there is a worry this year that the flu could run rampant

Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor at the UK Health Security Agency, says,

“Flu and COVID-19 are unpredictable, but there are strong indications we could be facing the threat of widely circulating flu, lower levels of natural immunity due to less exposure over the last three winters and an increase in COVID-19 circulating with lots of variants that can evade the immune response. This combination poses a serious risk to our health, particularly those in high-risk groups.” 

Thankfully, like the covid booster, the flu jab is easy to book.  

The flu vaccine this year is new. Those of us in the UK who are over 65 are being offered this latest vaccine for the first time this year. It is an adjuvanted vaccine which means it improves the body’s immune response to the vaccine itself. Because our ageing bodies don’t respond as well to the vaccination for flu, the lovely scientists have developed this year’s vaccine especially for us! 

By getting our flu jabs it’s predicted that we can collectively “reduce GP consultations by 30,000, hospitalisations by over 2,000 and prevent over 700 hospital deaths from flu in England, alleviating some of the health burden that seasonal flu places on the population, workplaces and the NHS”. Those stats alone seem to me to be reason  enough to get jabbed! 

Both the Covid and flu vaccines may have side effects that usually last for only a day or two. My arm was sore for two days, and my husband and I both felt tired the day following both vaccinations. A small price to pay for such amazing protection!

These jabs will save countless lives. They are easy to book. And there really aren’t that many freebies out there which offer such amazing returns!

Thank you to all those Scientists and the health care workers who are making all this possible. They are there for YOU! What are you waiting for? Go and have yours and join our very sensible club. 

When someone next asks, “have you had yours?” I hope your answer is a resounding yes! 

Stay safe and well.  


Kathy Feest has a wealth of experience with writing, leadership and personal development mentoring. Kathy fulfilled her dream at the age of 41 and earned her first University degree; she went on to complete a PhD in Medical Education. She regularly runs self-development workshops at The Joy Club so keep your eyes on our events calendar for one of her next live sessions.

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