New vaccine marketing campaign urges millions to boost immunity this winter

A new nationwide marketing campaign urging millions of eligible people to get a flu shot and COVID-19 booster to boost their immunity will be launched on Monday October 24, as nearly 10 million people in

A new nationwide marketing campaign urging millions of eligible people to get a flu shot and COVID-19 booster to boost their immunity will be launched on Monday October 24, as nearly 10 million people in England have already received their reminders.

Advertisements will run on TV, radio, social media and digital, highlighting the importance of people receiving both vaccines to increase their protection this winter.

Targeted communications for people with long-term health conditions, pregnant women and ethnic minority communities, with a particular focus on people with low vaccination confidence, will also appear and include examples of cases where Vaccination rates have been low in the past.

More than 10 million people are expected to have had their autumn COVID-19 booster in England by Monday, with 49.5% of people aged 65 and over receiving their flu shot, helping protect against serious illness throughout the winter.

The latest data on COVID-19 showed continued high rates of cases and hospitalizations over the past few weeks.

Flu cases rose rapidly last week, indicating the season started earlier than normal. This leads to increased pressure on emergency departments, with hospitalization rates and intensive care admissions are increasing fastest among children under 5 years of age.

Deputy Prime Minister and Health and Social Care Secretary Thérèse Coffey received her fall reminder this week and is urging those eligible to take up the offer as soon as possible, saying:

Our fall COVID booster and flu vaccination programs are in full swing. Vaccines are our best line of defense against both viruses and will help keep people out of hospital this winter.

While we’ve made great strides with nearly 10 million people already boosted, including me, we are actively encouraging, through our new marketing campaign, everyone who is eligible to come forward for the two jabs as soon as possible.

Influenza vaccination is currently behind last season for preschool children (12.1% in all 2-year-olds and 12.8% in all 3-year-olds), pregnant women (12 .4%) and those under 65 in a clinical risk group (18.2%).

Vaccines are the best defense against both viruses and will help reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment, reducing pressure on the NHS.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Dr Thomas Waite said:

The restrictions we put in place to curb the spread of COVID and protect the NHS last year also prevented the flu virus from spreading as you would normally expect, so immunity levels in population are probably quite low.

The flu has started circulating at low levels, mainly among children and young people at the moment. As winter approaches, we can expect flu and COVID cases to increase across all age groups. Getting vaccinated against both viruses is the most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of becoming seriously ill. If you’re eligible, please show up for your jabs as soon as you can – it’s important to be protected before the winter surges start.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Director of Vaccinations at the UK Health Security Agency, said:

“The latest data follows the pattern we predicted, and a difficult winter is expected.

This year we want people to see COVID-19 and the flu as equally important – and both vaccines will give a “boost” this winter. Protection from the COVID-19 vaccine declines over time, and boosting immunity will help provide better protection against new variants.

So far, we have seen millions of people get vaccinated, especially older age groups who remain at risk of serious illness and death from both diseases. Having both vaccines will help protect you and the health service so that we can continue to treat patients with other conditions.

I urge everyone who is eligible to book your vaccine as soon as possible and don’t delay – you could come in contact with the flu or COVID-19 tomorrow.

NHS director for vaccinations and testing, Steve Russell, said:

Thanks to the efforts of staff, the NHS autumn booster program has vaccinated twice as many people as at this point last year with almost 10 million people already receiving their COVID-19 boosters.

We are seeing evidence of rising levels of COVID and influenza infections in the community and care homes, and so ahead of what will be a very difficult winter, it is essential that all eligible people are protected; getting vaccinated has never been easier, so book now.

Building on the success of the 2021-2022 COVID-19 vaccination campaign, this year’s campaign will highlight that the protection offered by vaccines wanes over time, so all eligible people should boost their immunity by getting both vaccines before a difficult winter.

Ads use blue (flu) and yellow (COVID-19) halos to represent the protection offered by the two vaccines. They will be broadcast on television, video on demand, radio, social and digital networks. Highly targeted and eye-catching information on digital channels will help reiterate the importance of boosting your immunity ahead of a tough winter by booking injections early.

The NHS Winter Vaccines chatbot will return, helping to guide those looking for the right information online. This instant online conversation tool was first developed to support last winter’s campaign and answers frequently asked questions with reliable NHS information in one place.

The multicultural community activity will see teams of campaign ambassadors engage with a range of different ethnic groups who tend to be more vaccine hesitant. This will take place across the country at busy places of worship and nearby community venues. Dedicated radio ads and unique social media material will reinforce key messages.

About 33 million people are eligible for the flu vaccine and 26 million people are eligible for the COVID-19 booster.