Published: 10 November 2023
Public Health experts are urging those eligible to get their flu vaccine before the worst of the winter flu season begins. To maximize their protection against flu, people need to get vaccinated a few weeks before the flu season starts – usually it begins around early December. Vaccination will help to protect them from getting seriously ill before Christmas and the New Year when flu cases are expected to peak.
Over half a million people have already been vaccinated for flu in Wales so far this year. People who are eligible should come forward for their winter vaccines as soon as possible.
Parents of 2 and 3 year olds are particularly encouraged to make an appointment with their GP to get their child vaccinated. Young children can spread flu easily to more vulnerable members of their family and community. They can also suffer unpleasant symptoms themselves and if they catch the flu it can lead to secondary infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
Most children have the vaccine as a quick and painless nasal spray, which is highly effective at protecting against the virus. Flu vaccines are very safe and simple to give to children. There is still a concern that children who didn’t encounter the flu virus between 2020-2022, when there was less social mixing, could be particularly vulnerable.
Those who are under 65 years old and in a clinical risk group (for example; those who are diabetic, have a heart problem, liver disease or respiratory problems) are also urged to come forward for their flu vaccine. Flu and COVID-19 are both respiratory illnesses that thrive in winter. Getting vaccinated remains our best line of defence against serious disease.
The COVID-19 autumn booster programme is also live. Everyone over 65 years old are among those being offered a COVID-19 booster to reduce their chances of getting seriously ill with the virus. More information on how to get the vaccines is available from your local health board.
With added winter pressures on the NHS, it is more important than ever that those who are eligible for a free flu or COVID-19 vaccine get vaccinated to help prevent them becoming seriously unwell and protect the NHS this winter.
Dr Christopher Johnson, Consultant Epidemiologist and Head of Public Health Wales’ Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme explains “Flu can be serious. The very young, those with a health condition and the very old are particularly vulnerable. As the weather gets colder, viruses like flu are more easily spread. No-one wants to be ill over Christmas and New Year so it really is worth getting your vaccine.
“Any side effects from the vaccinations are normally mild and don’t last long. The chances of becoming seriously ill with flu or COVID-19 are greatly reduced by vaccination, as are the risks of spreading these viruses. Vaccination really is the best way to protect ourselves and others this winter from serious illness.”
To promote the vaccinations, Public Health Wales has launched a campaign encouraging those eligible to “get an extra layer of protection” against serious illness this winter by getting the flu and COVID-19 vaccines. The campaign is running with digital and social content as well as stakeholder outreach.
Vaccination is particularly important for those who are older, pregnant, or have a health condition and are more vulnerable to complications as a result of the infections. It is also very important that frontline healthcare workers and those who work in care homes or providing care in peoples own homes get their vaccines to help reduce spread.
To help stop flu and other viruses spreading, remember to ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it.’
For more information about who is eligible and how to get the vaccines, please visit: