New Covid vaccine and flu shots are available from this week

New Covid vaccine and flu shots are available from this week

A booster coronavirus vaccine is administered at a Covid vaccination centre at Elland Road in Leeds, as the booster vaccination programme continues across the UK. Picture date: Tuesday December 21, 2021.

Some 15 vaccine centres around the country will be used to bolster protection against Covid-19 for the winter, with vulnerable citizens urged to avail of the jab in the coming weeks.

The HSE is encouraging the uptake of both flu and Covid-19 jabs, warning that a flu jab alone will not protect against the killer virus that brought the country to a halt for the best part of two years, and vice versa.

People aged over 65 and all aged 12 and over with a weak immune system are invited for their next Covid-19 vaccine, the health body said.

Specialist in public health medicine at HSE National Immunisation Office, Dr Aparna Keegan, said both the flu and Covid-19 viruses are expected to circulate during the winter. 

"It is very important that all those who are invited get both their free flu vaccine and Covid-19 booster vaccines. Flu and Covid-19 are caused by different viruses but both can cause serious illness. 

The flu vaccine does not protect against Covid-19. That is why it is important that if you have had a Covid-19 vaccine, you should still get your free flu vaccine.

Both flu and Covid-19 vaccines will be available from participating GPs and pharmacies and can be given at the same time, Dr Keegan said.

The HSE urged anyone who has not received their primary vaccine or their booster doses, or who has had Covid-19 and has had to wait four months for their booster, to book an appointment as soon as possible.

The rollout of the so-called "bivalent" vaccine has also begun this week.

The bivalent vaccines include components of the original virus strain and the Omicron variant, ostensibly protecting against a combination of two or more coronavirus strains.

Three bivalent vaccines have been recommended as boosters by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC), following approval by the European Medicines Agency.

According to the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) figures, there have been 614,385,693 confirmed cases of Covid-19, including 6,522,600 deaths. More than 12.6 billion vaccine doses have been administered. 

Europe has by far the most overall cases, with nearly 254 million infections since the pandemic began in early 2020.

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