Somerset flu and Covid cases among the highest in the country

  • Watch Caroline Upton from NHS Somerset discuss the issue in the county

Cases of flu and Covid are on the rise in Somerset, with the county's rates among the highest in the country at present.

Health bosses have urged people locally to get vaccinated, if they are eligible. They have also put a renewed call out for anyone who is yet to receive a Covid vaccine to come forward.

NHS Somerset has revealed that since the beginning of December, its hospital trusts have seen a threefold increase in people in hospital with Covid and a fivefold increase in flu for the same period.

Caroline Upton, Head of Nursing and Quality for the Somerset Mass Vaccination Programme, said: "The key message really is if you haven't yet ever had a Covid vaccination please do come forward.

"We do know people haven't been able to get their boosters because they've been ill potentially, or they've wanted to delay because of Christmas, but we would really urge everyone to come forward that is eligible to get vaccinated because that's the best way to protect the population.

"Somerset, we know is one of the highest areas for Covid at the moment, so it's really, really important."

Tower vaccination centre is one of the main hubs for Covid jabs in Somerset

Covid vaccinations can be booked online or by finding a walk-in clinic. Flu jabs are widely available on the NHS for free for many people. It is also possible to pay for a vaccination at a number of pharmacies.

As of December 22, 86.9% of the population aged over-12 in Somerset had received at least one jab, with 83.9% for two doses.

For the Autumn booster programme, which is still running, there has been a 73% uptake.

People aged 50 years and older, residents in care homes for older people, those aged 5 years and over in a clinical risk group and health and social care staff have been offered a booster of the Covid vaccine this autumn.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: “Sadly, these latest flu numbers show our fears of a ‘twindemic’ have been realised, with the continued impact of Covid hitting staff hard, with related absences up almost 50% on the end of November.

“As well as flu, the NHS continues to be under significant pressure, with high bed occupancy, more than 12,000 beds taken up by patients medically fit for discharge, and demand for the 111 service remaining high, so please do make the most of 111 online, and only call 999 or visit A&E in an emergency."