How to protect yourself from flu and Covid ‘twindemic’

When and how can I book my Covid booster?

The National Booking Service went live on September 7 and can be found here. As with previous campaigns, those deemed most vulnerable are called out first, and those who qualify can book online or via 119 as long as it’s been three months since their last dose.

What is the Covid jab this fall? What variants does it include?

With the fall booster, you get a dose of a vaccine from Pfizer or Moderna. You may be offered an updated combination version of these booster vaccines, which includes a half dose of the previous vaccine combined with a half dose of a vaccine against the Omicron variant.

How effective is it?

According to the UKHSA, both the previous and combination vaccines enhance protection very effectively, but the combination vaccines produce slightly higher levels of antibody against some strains of Omicron.

What are the side effects of the Covid shot?

The NHS emphasizes that millions of people have had the Covid jab and serious side effects are very rare. But common side effects include a sore arm from the injection, fatigue, headache, pain, nausea, and vomiting. Some people may get a high temperature or feel warm or shivering for one or two days after their vaccination.

Can you – and should you – have Covid and flu shots at the same time? Which is most important?

You can – the NHS says it’s safe to get the Covid booster and flu vaccination at the same time. It would mean having two separate shots, but you may be able to make one appointment for both if your GP offers the two.

Covid vaccine centers will only offer the Covid vaccine; if you get your booster at a special center you will have to go elsewhere for your flu shot.

Most importantly, if you belong to a higher risk group or work with people who are, then both are important and you should take up your offer of both. High-risk groups are offered a free flu shot, but younger, healthy adults can pay for a flu shot at the pharmacy, just like in previous years. This demographic will not currently be called for a Covid booster.

How do I know if I have Covid, the flu or a cold?

The only way to know if you have Covid is to take a Covid test, although official guidelines no longer advise you to do so. Some people are still eligible for free Covid testing; for example if you work in care or adult care. The rest of us have to buy them now. Rapid lateral flow tests are available for purchase at some pharmacies and retailers, in person and online.

There are some key differences between the flu and the common cold. According to the NHS, flu comes on quickly (within a few hours), while a cold comes on more gradually; the flu affects more than just your nose and throat, while a cold primarily affects those areas; and while you may feel exhausted from the flu and unable to carry on with normal activities, a cold may leave you feeling unwell but still able to carry out your normal activities.

What are the most common symptoms of Covid now?

According to data from the ZOE Health Study tracker app, the current top five symptoms that have emerged in recent weeks in those who have had two Covid vaccinations are: runny nose, headache, sneezing, sore throat and persistent cough. The symptoms previously strongly associated with the virus – loss of smell, shortness of breath and fever – are now much less common in fully vaccinated individuals.

What are the most common symptoms of the flu?

Flu symptoms may include: a sudden high temperature; a painful body; feeling tired or exhausted; a dry cough; a sore throat; headache; trouble sleeping; loss of appetite; diarrhea or stomach pain; nausea and vomiting.

Can you get Covid and the flu at the same time?

Yes – and this is not a good combination to have. Research suggests that hospitalized patients with both Covid and flu at the same time are at much higher risk of serious illness and death. A study conducted by the Universities of Edinburgh, Liverpool and Leiden and Imperial College London showed that patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid) and flu were more than four times more likely to be on a ventilator at the same time. support and 2.4 times more likely to die than if they had Covid alone.

How can I book a flu shot?

Anyone can book a flu shot from a pharmacy if they are willing to pay the cost of £16.99. But high-risk groups can get an NHS flu shot for free. You can book your free flu shot at a pharmacy if you are 65 years of age or older, have certain medical conditions, are pregnant, or are a primary care social worker. From mid-October, people over 50 can also get their flu shot for free.

If you are entitled to a free flu shot, you can also get it from your GP practice, but if you are struggling to book a flu shot at your practice, it may be easier to book online at a pharmacy.

All elementary school children and some high school students are eligible for the flu nasal spray, which is usually administered at school. GP practices also invite two- and three-year-olds to receive the nasal spray vaccination in their practice.

When does flu season start and how long does it last?

The flu season falls between December and March, but the disease can start to spread from October and some cases have already been identified in the UK this autumn. Although cases are concentrated in the winter months, it is possible to catch the flu at any time, and sometimes outbreaks may not occur until mid-spring.

How else can I protect myself against colds, flu and Covid this year?

The UKHSA encourages everyone to stop the spread of respiratory viruses this winter by practicing good hand hygiene, wearing masks in crowded or enclosed public areas and covering their nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing.

Other than that, experts suggest a number of ways to boost your immune system naturally. These include: eating a Mediterranean diet rich in differently colored fruits and vegetables to maximize the number of nutrients; get a good night’s sleep (adults need an average of seven to nine hours a night); exercising regularly; and consider supplementing your vitamin D with a supplement as the days get shorter. The government recommends that everyone take a daily vitamin D supplement during the fall and winter to support their general health.

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