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Over-50s urged to get jabs as fears for twindemic grow

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All over-50s have been urged to get their flu and Covid jabs to help stave off a “twindemic” this winter. Health officials expect a “challenging” winter as infections increase.

A new campaign being launched tomorrow will encourage people to view both jabs as equally important.

The over-50s along with those suffering long-term health problems or other vulnerabilities are eligible.

Restrictions to stop the spread of Covid and protect the NHS last winter also stopped the spread of flu but it means people’s immunity to flu is now lower. Cases have climbed quickly in the past week, indicating the season has started earlier than normal, putting pressure on A&E.

Officials have warned that hospital and intensive care admissions for flu are rising fastest in children under five.

Covid data has also shown continued high rates of hospitalisations.

Flu vaccination is behind last season’s for pre-schoolers, pregnant women and those under 65 in a clinical risk group.

The campaign will also target ethnic minority groups where vaccine hesitancy is high.

More than 10 million people have received their Covid autumn booster in England and nearly half of the over 65s have had their flu jab.

Deputy Prime Minister and Health and Social Care Secretary Thérèse Coffey received her autumn booster last week and said: “Vaccines are our best line of defence against both viruses and will help keep people out of hospital this winter. While we have made great progress with almost 10 million people already boosted, including me, we are actively encouraging, through our new marketing campaign, everybody eligible to come forward for both jabs as soon as possible.”

Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Dr Thomas Waite said: “The restrictions we had in place to curb the spread of Covid and protect the NHS last year also prevented the flu virus from spreading as we would normally expect to see, so levels of immunity in the population are likely quite low.

“Flu has started circulating at low levels mainly in children and younger people. As winter approaches, we can expect flu and Covid cases to rise in all age groups.”

Dr Mary Ramsay, director of immunisations at the UK Health Security Agency, said: “This year we want people to think about Covid and flu as equally important – and both vaccines will provide a ‘boost’ this winter.”

Statins slash the risk of dying from Covid by more than a third by combatting severe symptoms such as breathing problems and persistent chest pain, new US research claims.

Covid causes inflammation that increases in some cases where the immune system responds too aggressively, damaging the lungs, kidneys, heart, brain and vascular system.

But statins “cool the process”, the University of Central Florida said.

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