Flu and COVID-19 cases are rising rapidly across Hertfordshire, with both viruses set to continue to surge across the UK throughout January, according to the latest information from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
New data shows that nationally, there were an average of 3,764 patients a day in hospital with flu in the last week of December, more than seven times higher than in November, when there were 520 cases. As some of these patients are sick enough to need critical care, this is adding to the very significant pressures on NHS services.
NHS staff have also been impacted by the spread of viruses this winter, with 20% more NHS staff off with illness in December, than in November. The number of NHS staff absences due to COVID has increased by almost 50% in a month, with 8,029 people off sick due to COVID in December, compared with 5,448 in November.
Getting your COVID and flu vaccinations is the best way to protect yourself and others from these viruses and if you haven’t had yours, it is not too late to start.
Dr Jane Halpin, Chief Executive of the Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care Board said: ‘Flu and COVID can both result in very serious illnesses – as the rising numbers of hospital admissions have shown. The latest figures show that around one in every 45 people in England currently has COVID, so if you’re not protected, there’s a very real chance that you will be exposed to the virus. Coming forward for your vaccinations is particularly important for those at higher risk and people who live with or care for them, to help avoid serious health complications. Vaccinations are available locally every day of the week, so don’t delay, get your jabs and protect yourself, your loved ones and essential NHS services.
‘If you are unwell, try to stay at home if you can. Wear a face covering to help protect others if you have to go out, and avoid visiting people in hospital or anyone whose health is at risk. Flu, COVID and norovirus are all putting local health services under huge strain this January.’
Flu and COVID-19 vaccinations are available to children and adults, who are eligible, with bookable appointments available every day across Hertfordshire.
Those eligible for a free flu vaccine – a nasal spray for children and an injection for adults – are:
- anyone aged from 6 months to 50 years old in a clinical risk group
- children aged 2 or 3 years old on 31 August 2022
- all primary school aged children (reception age to year 6)
- eligible children aged between 11 and 16
- pregnant women
- everyone aged 50 and over
- those in long-stay residential care homes
- carers / in receipt of carer’s allowance / or main carer of an older or disabled person
- close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
- frontline health and social care staff
Flu jabs can also be booked on-line at NHS.UK. Find out if your pharmacy is linked in with this service Book or manage a free NHS flu vaccination at a pharmacy – NHS (www.nhs.uk). If there isn’t an online site near you, don’t worry – just ask in your local pharmacy or via your GP practice. You can get more information getting your child vaccinated against flu on NHS.UK.
For COVID-19 vaccinations
People can book online or search for local pharmacies offering walk-in vaccinations using their postcode via NHS.UK or call 119. You can also speak with your local pharmacist or GP directly to see if they offer this service.
People who are eligible for autumn COVID-19 boosters (if it has been at least three months since a previous dose):
- all adults aged 50 and over
- those aged 5 to 49 in a clinical risk group, including pregnant women
- those age 5 to 49 who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression
- those aged 15 to 49 who are carers
- residents in care homes for older adults and staff
- frontline health and social care workers.
To check if you are eligible: hertsandwestessexics.org.uk/covid-19