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Thousands and thousands urged to get flu and Covid jabs amid UK winter ‘twindemic’ fears | Corona virus

Tens of hundreds of thousands of individuals within the UK are being urged to get flu and Covid vaccinations as quickly as potential amid fears of a winter “twindemic” which poses a serious risk to public well being.

UKHSA officers are bracing for a resurgence in probably deadly flu infections within the coming months, and fear it can coincide with the primary wave of coronavirus that’s already constructing.

Whereas Covid restrictions have saved flu at very low ranges for the previous three years, a return to close pre-pandemic ranges of admixture within the UK means the virus is ripe for a bounce again this season, when the inhabitants’s immunity is low.

“There are sturdy indications that we could also be prone to widespread flu, decrease ranges of pure immunity as a result of diminished publicity over the previous three winters, and a rise within the Covid-19 circulates with a number of mutations that may evade the immune response,” stated Dr Susan Hopkins, UKHSA’s chief medical adviser.

“This mixture poses a critical risk to our well being, particularly these in high-risk teams.”

The NHS comes below strain each winter because the chilly climate drives up hospital admissions, but when flu and Covid unfold extensively on the similar time, it might be a really tough season well being service.

Well being officers are significantly involved concerning the H3N2 pressure of flu that has been picked up by international surveillance and has sparked an early return of the flu in Australia this 12 months. H3N2 may cause extra extreme illness than different flu strains and was answerable for the UK’s final extreme flu season in 2017-18, which noticed round 22,000 further deaths and twice as many into the hospital.

Round 33 million folks within the UK are eligible for a free flu vaccine within the autumn, together with kids who obtain the nasal spray vaccine. Well being officers are eager to extend uptake in pregnant girls, lower than half of whom have been vaccinated final 12 months, and in younger kids who don’t seem to have any pure immunity. from the virus.

About 26 million of these eligible for a free flu shot are additionally eligible for the autumn Covid increase. Below NHS plans, these shall be up to date medicines from Pfizer and Moderna, which goal the unique variants and Omicron. Influenza and Covid footage can be found for everybody over 50, folks at scientific danger, these dwelling with immunocompromised folks, and frontline well being and social care employees. The place potential, Covid and flu pictures shall be given on the similar time.

“This winter might be the primary time we see the results of the so-called ‘twindemic’ of each Covid and flu in full circulation, so it’s important that these most prone to critical sickness from these viruses on for vaccinations to guard themselves and people round them,” stated Steve Russell, NHS director of vaccinations and screening. “When you have been provided a flu vaccine or a Covid booster you must so that you can apply as quickly as potential.”

There are nonetheless no indicators that flu season has arrived within the UK, however Covid instances and hospitalizations have began to rise as new Omicron variants are higher capable of acquire immunity from vaccines and infections on the time. left to get land. A 2020 research discovered that individuals who examined optimistic for the flu and Covid on the similar time have been twice as prone to die as those that solely examined optimistic for Covid.

Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental drugs at Imperial School London, stated that the low ranges of influenza previously two winters signifies that an individual hardly has any pure immunity in opposition to the flu anymore. “This winter, I believe we’re significantly involved that ailments could have a a lot larger influence, and will trigger issues for people who find themselves not usually included within the marketing campaign. vaccination. “

One other concern is that individuals could also be reluctant to get Covid and influenza vaccines. “I believe some folks really feel, ‘I will have one vaccine, however I will not have two’,” Openshaw stated. “We all know that giving each the flu vaccine and the Covid vaccine on the similar time is protected, and they don’t intrude with one another. Folks must get each, as a result of they work fully in another way in opposition to two totally different viruses. “

Dr Tom Peacock, an entomologist at Imperial School London, stated primarily based on knowledge from the southern hemisphere, the UK may expertise its first correct post-pandemic flu season this 12 months. “It might be very unhealthy, particularly when mixed with the Covid wave,” he stated.

However Dr Julian Tang, an epidemiologist on the College of Leicester, warned that there was nonetheless nice uncertainty about what is going to occur within the UK. “Though the flu season in Australia is adopted by the flu season within the UK, the virus doesn’t simply pack up and depart Australia for the UK.

“You may’t predict what’s coming within the UK flu season, however the necessary factor is to get vaccinated. If Covid measures similar to masking, social distancing and higher indoor air flow are maintained, this can even scale back the variety of seasonal flu infections. “

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