People preparing to celebrate the colourful festival of Holi are being urged to get their COVID-19 vaccinations up to date to ensure they protect themselves and their families during the festivities. The NHS in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent is advising everyone eligible for a jab to protect themselves against the virus as families and friends come together to take part in the popular Hindu festival on Friday, March 18. Vaccines are currently available to everybody aged 12 and above and children aged 5-11 who are in a clinical risk group or who live with someone who is vulnerable or immunosuppressed. Dr Paddy Hannigan, Clinical Lead for the vaccination programme in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, said: “Holi is traditionally a happy time when people come together in large groups to celebrate the end of winter and the arrival of spring in a riot of colour. “But although winter may be ending it’s important to remember that COVID-19 is still with us, and a situation where lots of different people come into close contact with each other provides the ideal opportunity for this virus to spread. “If you are planning to celebrate Holi this year, please don’t forget to take precautions against the virus – and remember that the best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is to get your vaccines as soon as you are eligible. “Studies have shown that some ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by Coronavirus, so we would particularly encourage people in these groups to come forward and book an appointment for a jab or visit their local walk-in clinic as soon as possible.” For more information about COVID-19 vaccination clinics and how to get your jab please visit https://www.twbstaffsandstoke.org.uk/coronavirus/getting-your-covid-19-vaccination/how-to-get-your-covid-19-vaccination You don’t need to be registered with a GP or have an NHS number to get your jab, but it will be quicker if you do, so take that information with you if you can. Appointments for first, second or booster doses of the vaccine can also be booked online through the National Booking System by visiting www.nhs.uk, or by calling 119. Don’t miss out. Get vaccinated and get protected.