We've all heard of different phases of the Covid crisis, but Greater Manchester health chiefs have coined a new term and approach to show the double trouble caused by not just Covid-19, but flu, too.
Dubbed the 'Duodemic' the region has adopted an awareness campaign that literally brings both viruses to life in the shape of two over-size monster characters.
The characters, who visited Ashton Market in Tameside on 9 November, caused chaos to show the disruption that both viruses bring, the health threat they pose, and what they can spoil for people. The campaign also directs people to where and how they can have their vaccinations, as well as other support, including cost of living advice.
Dr Ashwin Ramachandra, Strategic Clinical Lead for Integrated Care at Tameside Integrated Care Partnership said: "COVID is still here! If you are invited to book your Covid-19 booster and are offered the flu vaccination at the same time, it is safe to have them both together. The flu vaccine is the best protection for you and those around you. It's available for free to those most at risk. Aside from having your flu vaccine, the best way to prevent the spread of flu is to practice good hand hygiene. Catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue, throw the tissue away and then wash your hands with soap afterwards. Catch it, bin it, kill it."
Councillor Eleanor Wills, Executive Member for Population Health at Tameside Council, said: "Children are super-spreaders of flu – vaccinating eligible children will help keep them well and also help protect other members of the family. Vaccinating your 2-3 year old will help them to stay well to attend nursery. If you are a parent of a primary school aged child, look out for a letter home and please ensure you sign and return your consent form to the school."
This Autumn, the following people are being offered a free Covid-19 booster vaccine:
- all adults aged 50 years and over
- those aged 5 to 49 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression
- those aged 16 to 49 years who are carers
- residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults
- frontline health and social care workers
The Flu vaccine is being offered free to:
- people aged 50 and over
- those aged over six months to 49 with a specified health condition
- some secondary school-aged children
- 2 and 3 year olds
- pregnant women
- primary school-aged children
- those in care homes
- frontline health care workers
- frontline social care staff who do not have access to occupational health schemes
- household contacts of people with a weakened immune system
Dr Helen Wall, Greater Manchester Clinical Director for Population Health and Lead for Immunisation and Screening, said: "This year is different and there is almost a feeling that Covid has gone away. But, it absolutely hasn't – numbers will go up as we get into the colder months and we also know that flu is predicted to be more severe. Getting either virus can make you very ill, but getting both at the same time is even worse.
"I think people's motivations for taking action may also have changed: I often hear from my patients now that they are concerned about what they will miss out on by becoming ill, including feeling anxious about losing work especially while we face the hardship brought on by the cost of living crisis."
David Regan, Manchester's Director of Public Health, said: "It's really important for people to check if they are eligible for vaccination. I'd also like to remind anyone aged 50 and over that as of last week (Friday 14 October) they can now also book in their Autumn boosters and the flu vaccine on the National Booking Service - but please call 119 if you need any help with booking an appointment. Once again, we thank everyone for their efforts in doing everything they can during difficult times.
"The vaccines protect both you and others, and are still the best form of defence, along with washing hands and staying home if you feel ill. I'm saying to people, act now, so 'we don't give Covid and flu anything to do'."
Sarah Price, Director of Population Health and Health Inequalities, said: "The Greater Manchester integrated care system has been preparing as never before for a Winter that is likely to be as difficult as recent years. This challenge will add pressures to hospital and care services and everyone can play a part in that by making considered and prompt decisions around their healthcare."