A message from Trish Bennett, Executive Director of Nursing and Operations
2 March 2022
As we’re in a more stable situation in relation to COVID-19, you can expect to see fewer of these briefings. We will only share news and information as and when we’re aware of it. That said, vaccinations remain important in thinking about future planning as the situation could change. Please continue to follow guidance in relation to the prevention and spread of the virus.
Heartfelt thank you
Watch a short message from our senior leadership incident management team, thanking staff below.
Why is it so important that I receive both vaccines this year?
Flu vaccination is especially important this year as more people are likely to get flu this winter. This is because less people will have built up immunity against the virus this year due to measures put in place for COVID-19 (mask-wearing, physical and safe distancing, restrictions on international travel).
This is also the first year that flu will co-circulate alongside COVID-19. Research has shown that if you catch both viruses at the same time you are at increased risk of getting seriously ill. The best way to avoid catching and spreading flu is by having the vaccination before the flu season starts.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has reviewed available data and provided the advice that COVID-19 boosters are first offered to the most vulnerable to provide maximum protection during the winter months. This includes frontline health and social care workers. It is vital that you maintain protection against severe illness from COVID-19, specifically hospitalisation and deaths during winter. The aim is to protect those who are most vulnerable and to protect the NHS.
How effective is the flu vaccine?
The flu vaccine will help prevent you getting flu and is your best protection against the virus. It will not stop all flu viruses but if you do get flu after vaccination, it’s likely to be milder and shorter-lived than it would otherwise have been. It takes between 10 and 14 days for your immune system to respond fully after you’ve had the flu jab.
How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?
The vaccination programme has already substantially reduced the risk from severe COVID-19 in the UK population.
Can I still catch COVID-19 after having the vaccine?
The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of you suffering from COVID-19 disease. It may take a few days for your body to build up some protection from the booster. Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective – some people may still get COVID-19 despite having a vaccination, but this should be less severe.
Can I have my flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster in the same appointment?
Yes, as a healthcare worker you are eligible to receive both vaccines and therefore may be offered both jabs in the same appointment. However, it is important that you do not delay receiving either vaccine if you’re unable to get them at the same time. It is vital that you are fully protected as soon as possible.
Is the NHS confident the vaccines are safe?
Yes. The NHS would not offer any vaccinations to the public until it is safe to do so. The MHRA, the official UK regulator authorising licensed use of medicines and vaccines by healthcare professionals, has said these vaccines are safe and highly effective, and we have full confidence in their expert judgement and processes.
As with any medicine, vaccines are highly regulated products. There are checks at every stage in the development and manufacturing process, and continued monitoring once it has been authorised and is being used in the wider population.
Will there be any side effects from the booster vaccine?
As with your previous dose the common side effects are the same for all COVID-19 vaccines used in the UK, and include:
- having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection. This tends to be worst around one to two days after the vaccine
- feeling tired
- general aches, or mild flu like symptoms.
You can rest and take paracetamol (follow the dose advice in the packaging) to help make you feel better. Although feeling feverish is not uncommon for two to three days, a high temperature is unusual and may indicate you have COVID-19 or another infection.
Although a fever can occur within a day or two of vaccination, if you have any other COVID-19 symptoms or your fever lasts longer, stay at home and arrange to have a test. Symptoms following vaccination normally last less than a week. If your symptoms seem to get worse or if you are concerned, you can call NHS 111.
If you had serious side effects after any previous dose you may be advised to avoid or delay further vaccination. You should discuss this with your doctor or specialist.
Will I get any side effects from the flu vaccine?
The most common side effects from the flu vaccine can be a slight temperature or your arm may feel a little sore where you had the injection. Other side effects are rare.
I’ve only just had my first or second COVID-19 vaccine, can I have a booster jab?
No, the JCVI advises that the booster vaccine should be offered no earlier than 91 days after completion of the primary vaccine course.
What type of vaccine will the COVID-19 booster be? What if it’s different to the one I have had?
After reviewing data on booster responses from different combinations of COVID-19 vaccines, JCVI advises a preference for the Pfizer-BioNTech (vaccine to be offered as the booster dose irrespective of which type of vaccine was used in the primary schedule). There is good evidence that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is well tolerated as a booster dose and will provide a strong booster response.
Alternatively, individuals may be offered a half dose of the Moderna vaccine, which should be well tolerated and is also likely to provide a strong booster response. A half dose of Moderna vaccine is advised over a full dose due to the levels of reactogenicity (side effects) seen following boosting with a full dose in clinical trials.
Where mRNA vaccines cannot be offered, for example, due to contraindication, vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine may be considered for those who received AstraZeneca vaccine in the primary course. More detail is available in the green book.
Can I have the booster if I haven’t completed the first vaccination course?
No, you need to finish the first course of your vaccination.
I haven’t yet had the COVID-19 vaccination, can I still get my first jabs?
Everyone that is eligible that hasn’t already had their first or second COVID-19 vaccination is still able to get vaccinated.
How do I get my COVID-19 booster?
Your employer will provide more information on how to get your flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster.
Can I have the flu vaccine if I’m pregnant?
Yes, all pregnant women are recommended to receive the flu vaccine. There is evidence that suggests pregnant women are at increased risk from complications if they contract flu, the flu vaccine is the best protection against this.
Can I have the COVID-19 booster if I’m pregnant?
Yes. If you are pregnant and in one of the groups that the JCVI has recommended for the boosters, you are eligible to receive a booster, no earlier than 91 days after completion of the first course of vaccination.
I had the flu vaccination last year. Do I need to have it again?
Yes. The viruses that cause flu can change every year, which means flu (and the vaccine) this year may be different from last year.
Do I still need to get my flu jab if I’ve had both of my COVID-19 vaccines?
Yes, the COVID-19 vaccine does not protect you from the flu, and vice versa. If you are eligible for both vaccines you should have them both.
I’ve recently had COVID-19, can I still have my flu vaccine?
If you’ve had COVID-19, it’s still safe to have the flu vaccine. It will still be effective at helping to prevent flu.