It has never been more important for allied health professionals to come forward for their vaccinations

We are now seeing significant pressures on health services including high levels of hospital admissions from flu, with cases in hospital now more than seven times higher than November 2022.

As allied health professionals (AHPs), you can protect yourself and those you care for against these potentially serious viruses by getting both the flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster if you haven’t already. We are already seeing the impact on NHS staff, with the total number of staff COVID-19 related absences up almost 50% at the end of December in comparison to the month before.

Even if you have had both vaccines before, it’s important to top up your protection, as the viruses that cause flu change each year and immunity from previous COVID-19 doses fades over time. If you haven’t yet had your earlier doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s also not too late to come forward and get them.

As an AHP, we are part of the third largest clinical workforce in the NHS, playing a vital part in treating, rehabilitating and improving the lives of patients, along with the vital contribution of AHP support workers. Therefore, we are among millions who can get a further dose of the COVID-19 and flu vaccines – it only takes a few minutes and it will help protect against severe illness, getting you back on your feet sooner during the difficult winter period.

Your COVID-19 vaccination will either be available through your employer, by booking an appointment online or on the NHS App, or by calling 119. You may also be able to find a convenient local walk-in option through the online site finder. The flu vaccine should be provided through your employer. If you’re not sure how to get either vaccine, please find out more through your organisation. It’s never been easier to get this protection.

The COVID-19 and flu vaccines can be given on the same day. However, whilst you may be able to get both jabs in a single appointment, it’s more important to get earlier protection by getting each one as soon as you can rather than waiting for both.

The COVID-19 and flu vaccines have had an amazing impact, helping to save many lives, keeping people out of hospital and helping to bring families back together after lockdown. With ongoing pressures on NHS services including staff sickness, high volume of 111 calls and impacted hospital bed capacity, it is vital that frontline healthcare staff come forward for their jabs as soon as possible.

We also encourage you to remind any patients that you care for that are eligible for the flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster that they can get their vaccines and get protected.

It’s easier than ever to make sure you are up to date with your COVID-19 and flu vaccinations, so book an appointment and join over one third of frontline healthcare workers who have received their vaccines.

Suzanne Rastrick

Suzanne qualified as an Occupational Therapist from Oxford. Suzanne was the first Allied Health Professional (AHP) to hold a substantive Director of Nursing post in both provider and commissioning organisations. She became the Chief Executive of a Primary Care Trust, where a particular highlight was having leadership responsibility for delivering health resilience and health ‘blue light’ services during the Olympic sailing events held in Dorset in 2012. She subsequently gained authorisation for a large Clinical Commissioning Group, before moving to her current post with NHS England. She was appointed as Chief Allied Health Professions Officer for England in September 2014.

In 2017 Suzanne launched the first AHP strategy for England which has been recognised as ground-breaking in policy development from its use of crowdsourcing. Building on this, Suzanne published the second AHP strategy – ‘AHPs Deliver’ in June 2022. This iteration had a greater emphasis on patient, public voice and specifically the inclusion of those who may be digitally excluded along with communities who may find it difficult to connect with traditional consultation methods. The result is a national strategy crowdsourced from diverse populations for people and communities AHPs serve.

For over three decades, Suzanne has held non-executive portfolios outside of the NHS, including audit committee chair roles, predominantly in the housing and charitable sector. Suzanne was recognised as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s birthday honours list 2019. In 2023 Suzanne was awarded a Visiting Professor role at St George’s, University of London and at Oxford Brookes University.

Follow Suzanne on Twitter/X @SuzanneRastrick or Instagram @chief_ahp_officer_england