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 STOKE-ON-TRENT, NEWCASTLE-UNDER-LYME, STAFFORDSHIRE MOORLANDS, SOUTH CHESHIRE

UKHSA urges eligible West Midlands people to get vaccinated against flu and COVID-19

before celebrating Diwali



The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is calling on eligible West Midlands people preparing to celebrate Diwali to come forward for their flu and COVID-19 vaccinations, so they can ‘Get Winter Strong’ and have a safe and healthy festival. As the vaccines take up to two weeks to provide maximum protection, getting vaccinated now will help reduce the risk of severe disease in time for Diwali.

Jasvir Kaur Bal, Health Protection Practitioner with UKHSA West Midlands, said: “Diwali is the most important festival in the year for Hindus, Sikhs and Jains. Families and friends come together to celebrate over five days, with feasting and exchanging of gifts. As Diwali occurs in October or November, this coincides with the winter sickness season – when we typically see cases of flu and COVID-19 increasing. That’s why we’re urging everyone celebrating Diwali who is eligible for their flu and Covid vaccines to prioritise their health and ‘get winter strong’.

“As well as protecting yourself, make sure your children are vaccinated against the flu. Last year, 10,000 children were hospitalised across the country because of complications after catching flu. As well as reducing risk of serious illness in your children, the flu vaccine helps stop the spread of flu in the family and wider community – helping to protect those who are more vulnerable and older people, such as grandparents. Make sure you and your loved ones have a blessed, healthy and prosperous Diwali by getting your winter vaccines.”

Flu and COVID-19 spread more when we spend more time indoors. If you are in one of the groups who is eligible for vaccination against flu and COVID-19, ensure you get your vaccines. This will help your Diwali celebrations stay on plan, whether that’s sharing delicious meals, lighting lamps or exchanging gifts with friends and family. Taking up the vaccines means you have taken steps to minimise the chances of spreading these infections or even experiencing serious complications from them.

Everyone aged 65 and over, pregnant women, and individuals with certain long-term health conditions like diabetes or cardiovascular disease, are eligible for free flu and COVID-19 vaccines. These vaccines offer the best defence against becoming severely unwell, hospitalisation and death from COVID-19 and flu.

Children are also eligible for a free flu vaccine and are advised to take up the vaccine ahead of the festivities if receiving the vaccine from their GP. Each winter, thousands of children need to go to hospital for treatment (10,000 children were hospitalised with flu last season), including intensive care, with children under the age of 5 years having one of the highest rates of hospital admissions due to flu compared to other age groups. By getting vaccinated, your child not only protects themselves, but also those around them, including babies, grandparents, and people with weak immune systems.

Parents are urged to ensure their children’s school vaccination consent forms are completed, and that eligible pre-schoolers are booked for appointments at the GP practice to help reduce the spread of flu this autumn and winter. Children in Reception to Year 11 will be offered the free nasal spray flu vaccine, delivered in schools by immunisation teams up and down the country. Children aged 2 and 3 (on or before 31 August) are eligible for the free nasal spray via their GP practice. And any child aged 6 months or over who has a health condition that puts them at increased risk from flu should have a vaccine every year. Children who can’t have the nasal spray for medical or faith reasons should request an injected flu vaccine instead.

To book Covid and flu vaccines, you can either download the NHS App, visit www.nhs.uk/book-covid or call 119 for free if you can’t get online.

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