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It's vital that everyone comes for their flu vaccination this year - a difficult flu season is expected, says Prof Mike Holmes in his latest blog:

As the Olympic Games drew to a close at the weekend and we look forward to the Paralympics, I reflected on those who had said it shouldn’t go ahead during the pandemic. Many said it was too great a risk and feared for the athletes. In every new thing we introduce in healthcare, we see people who are keen to take part and others who are hesitant.

The NHS vaccination programme has now seen almost nine in 10 adults having their first vaccination with more than 32 million now double jabbed. It is the biggest and most successful vaccination drive in health service history. But like any new thing, people are anxious. We saw the ‘early adopters’ – the older generation who were eager to get protected and we’re now seeing ‘late developers’ – others who may have been hesitant but are now more confident – coming to get their vaccine. It is never too late and our offer of vaccination will continue as an ‘evergreen offer’ for as long as it takes.

There is no doubt that the vaccination programme is having a major impact, keeping around 52,000 people out of hospital and saving an estimated 60,000 lives. We must not forget that there are still more than 5,000 people seriously ill in hospital with Covid and more than a fifth of those admitted are young people.

Vaccinating our young people

This is why we must still push on with the vaccination programme and encourage our young people to come and get their vaccine.

In York we have vaccinated more than 69% of our 18 to 29-year-olds with their first dose and we continue with our walk-in vaccination clinics in the city centre and at Askham Bar. We know many young people have now moved to other areas, or even abroad, so hope that they will get their vaccine elsewhere.

At the vaccination centre we’re preparing to vaccinate the 16 and 17 year-olds, following the new guidance from the JCVI. These young people will receive invitations from their GP practices shortly but they will also be able to walk in for the jab.

We’re also getting ready to offer the Covid booster vaccinations from next month to the over 50’s and high-risk groups. Again, invitations will go out for these very soon.

NHS Annual Flu Campaign

The NHS will be starting the annual flu campaign next month too. This will be complex – some people will come to the vaccination centre for their flu jab and others will have it at a GP practice surgery.

It’s vital that everyone comes for their flu vaccination this year. A difficult flu season is expected because the very low number of infections last winter has had an impact on population immunity. Mathematical modelling indicates flu levels this winter could be up to 50 per cent higher than usual and could start earlier.

We were hoping that the JCVI would let us deliver the Covid Vaccine and Flu Vaccine at the same time, but this is looking unlikely at the moment so at the moment plans are to deliver them separately. Which means people will have to come for two jabs – not ideal, but unfortunately this is the current advice.

So, again we are relying on the people of York to be proactive and do the right thing to protect themselves and others. Nimbuscare and the GP practices in York will keep delivering the vaccine, but it’s down to you the to take up the opportunities and come and to get vaccinated – protecting yourselves and each other from these serious infections.

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