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Cheshire and Merseyside residents urged to get flu and COVID-19 vaccines as cases rise

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Health chiefs are calling on people across Cheshire and Merseyside to book in their flu and COVID-19 booster jabs as cases across the area continue to rise.

Recent figures show early indications of an increase in flu and COVID-19 infections, as we enter what is expected to be a ‘challenging winter’.

And health professionals are concerned at the drop in the number of people coming forward for their vaccinations, particularly those who have long-term health conditions and are therefore more vulnerable to serious illness.

Experts also say that, while the COVID-19 vaccine has reduced the impact previously seen by the virus on communities and critical care services, the protection provided decreases over time.

Plus, flu viruses can also change every year, so it is vital that people come forward as soon as possible when it’s their turn, for extra protection ahead of winter.

Now, NHS Cheshire and Merseyside has launched a campaign to encourage people to take action and book in their vaccines if they have been invited, in a bid to top up their immunity.

Among those opting for the booster is 55-year-old Jan Copeland, who suffers from multiple sclerosis.

Jan, from Liverpool, says having the vaccination came “without question” for her as she wanted to protect herself and other vulnerable people she came into contact with.

She said: “Like everyone, I was a little concerned when the COVID-19 vaccines were first offered, purely because we didn’t know much about it and it was a very uncertain time for everyone.

“However, I’ve now had four vaccines due to suffering from MS and therefore being classed as vulnerable – for me, it’s a no-brainer and a simple way to shield myself and others from becoming seriously ill.

“I meet with a group of people each month who also have MS, so the last thing I want to do is to put them at risk. I get the seasonal flu jab every year so the Covid booster is just another thing that is part of maintaining my health in the winter.”

Across the UK, around 33 million people are eligible for the flu vaccine and 26 million people are eligible for the COVID-19 booster.

Prof Rowan Pritchard-Jones, Medical Director for NHS Cheshire and Merseyside, said: “We have seen a real reduction in demand for both the seasonal flu and COVID-19 booster jabs during the last few weeks.

“This could be due to people being unwell and therefore unable to attend or, more worryingly, it could be down to a lack of understanding or interest of how important the vaccines are.

“People with long-term health conditions are at a high risk of becoming seriously ill with flu or COVID-19, as are those are over 50 and pregnant women, so we need to encourage these people to come forward.

“It’s also not too late to get an earlier dose of the COVID-19 vaccine if you need one. Vaccines are still our best protection against severe disease and hospitalisation this winter, so it’s vital that, if you are invited to get one, book in your appointment and go without delay.”

For more information about eligibility for the flu and COVID-19 booster, visit: www.cheshireandmerseyside.nhs.uk/your-health/winter-wellbeing/flu-vaccination

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