Countdown is on to book flu and Covid-19 vaccinations online | News centre

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Countdown is on to book flu and Covid-19 vaccinations online

An advent calendar image with numbered doors and the NHS logo

With less than two weeks to go for people to book their flu and covid vaccinations online, the NHS in the South East has launched its very own countdown ‘JABvent’ calendar.

The calendar will be shared via social media channels, with aim to encourage people who are eligible for the vaccinations to #GetWinterStrong.

Take a peek through the first door of the JABvent

The NHS’s national booking system, NHS App and 119 phone service will close for flu and covid vaccine bookings from 15 December, making 14 December the last day to make a booking.

After this date, it will still be possible for those eligible to book their vaccinations through local NHS vaccination services. However, there will be fewer covid appointments, and you may need to travel further.

People can continue booking the covid vaccine through local services until 31 January. After that, covid vaccinations will close, and people will be required to wait for a future seasonal campaign unless they develop a new health condition or start treatment that severely weakens the immune system, in which case a clinician may advise vaccination sooner.

After 15 December, people will still be able to get their free flu jab as they can now, by contacting their GP surgery or by finding a pharmacy that offers the vaccine if you're 18 or over.   

The flu vaccine offer will close after 31 March. However, getting it as soon as possible is encouraged to ensure protection over the colder months when flu is often in greater circulation.

Across the South East, there are still hundreds of thousands of appointments available each week offering extra protection to those eligible who have not yet come forward.

As of 1st December, more than 4.7 million covid and flu vaccinations have been administered in the region since the beginning of the autumn campaign which began on 11 September.

Getting vaccinated is the best way for people to ensure they and their families are protected against flu and covid this Christmas when the viruses spread more easily as people spend more time indoors. It takes about two weeks following vaccination to build up the maximum defences against the viruses, so it’s important to book in early.

It is crucial to get this protection, even if you have had a vaccine or been ill with flu or covid before, as immunity fades over time and the viruses change each year.

Although the 119 service, which provides booking support for those unable to access online services, will close for bookings on 15 December, it will continue answering queries until 22 December.

Parents are advised to ensure that eligible children are protected against the flu with the nasal spray vaccine, as they are at a higher risk of catching and spreading the virus. If caught, it can lead to serious problems like bronchitis and pneumonia. Parents can call to book an appointment for their two or three-year-old (aged 2 or 3 on 31 August 2023) or their child with certain health conditions at their GP practice until 31 March.

The flu vaccine, usually given as a nasal spray, will be offered in schools until 15 December.

There will be some limited community-based sessions up till 31 January for those children who missed the first opportunity at their school.  After this date, parents can still call their local school aged immunisation service to request a community appointment.   

The NHS has sent national invites via text, email, letter, and on the NHS app to eligible people over 18 since bookings opened in September to ensure no one misses out and is continuing to encourage those that are yet to come forward through the NHS marketing campaign with UKHSA and DHSC. 

If you are experiencing cold and flu symptoms on the day of your vaccinations, it's advisable to rebook your appointment for when you are well.

Find out more about winter vaccinations


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