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Top up your immunity this winter

The threat of Covid-19 hasn’t gone away, and with the flu season on the way, we must look ahead to the unpredictable winter we are facing and consider what we can do to protect everyone from these two potentially deadly viruses.

The Head of the Health Security Agency, Jenny Harries, has said that people are at “more significant risk of death and of serious illness if they are co-infected” with both viruses. She added: “It’s a more uncertain year but I certainly would be encouraging everybody to go and get their vaccine.”

More than 40 million people in the UK are being offered a flu jab this year. The over-50s and younger adults with health conditions are also being offered a Covid-19 booster jab this autumn and winter.

If the last 18 months have taught us anything, it is the vital, lifesaving importance of vaccination.

Last winter, there were extremely low levels of influenza circulating in the UK. This was caused, in large part, by pandemic restrictions, including lockdowns and social distancing measures. Instead, last winter was dominated by the impact of Covid-19. The big concern this winter is the extent to which we may see flu and other respiratory viral infections re-emerge as major health threats, alongside coronavirus.

Implications for social care staff, vulnerable people receiving care, and their families, friends and loved ones are serious. An Academy of Medical Sciences report warns that the low levels of influenza last winter and the mild influenza season the winter before, make it likely our overall immunity to influenza will have diminished.

If we all make every effort to take up both the flu vaccine and Covid-19 booster offer, we will protect ourselves, our colleagues and those in our care more effectively. It will help us all to weather whatever storms may come our way.

CQC Report 2016 Brighton And Hove Adult Services Living Wage UK Home Care Association