Sadiq Khan received his COVID-19 booster jab and flu vaccine on Friday as he urged fellow Londoners to do the same, with the situation in the capital “finely balanced”.
The number of new cases in London continues to rise, with the rolling seven-day rate of infections higher this October half-term than at the same time last year.
The current seven-day rate stands at 287.4 cases per 100,000 population, compared to 156.6 per 100,000 last October half-term
But health experts have warned that with no lockdown restrictions in place, this winter will see the NHS contending with the “double threat” of COVID-19 and flu infections.
Analysis from Public Health England has found emerging evidence that people infected with both COVID and flu simultaneously are more than twice as likely to die than someone infected with COVID alone.
Ahead of receiving his jabs at a pharmacy in Tooting, Khan warned Londoners “not to underestimate the risk these viruses pose to all of us” and encouraged everyone to come forward for a flu vaccine and the COVID-19 booster jab when eligible.
He said: “I want to be very clear to all Londoners. This deadly virus has not gone away and this winter we’re facing both flu and COVID. The worst thing we can do is to lower our guard, be complacent and underestimate the risk these viruses pose to all of us.
“The situation with COVID-19 in the capital is so finely balanced that it needs all of us to act together to protect ourselves, our loved ones, the things we enjoy and our NHS this winter.”
Flu vaccines are available for free for over 50s, anyone with a long-term health condition such as asthma, healthcare workers and anyone who is pregnant, while the COVID-19 booster jab is available on the NHS for those most at risk of infection who had their second shot at least six months ago.
But the Mayor of London has also called on the Government to act fast and introduce “simple and effective steps” to contain infections now, such as making face coverings mandatory on public transport once again.
Last week, TfL commissioner Andy Byford said there was an “ongoing battle” to ensure passengers wear face coverings on the Tube and buses.
Though face-coverings have remained mandatory on TfL services as a condition of carriage, the rule ceased to be enforceable by law when lockdown restrictions were lifted on July 19.
Mr Byford has admitted that this has seen compliance fall, as police no longer have the power to give out fines or make arrests.
The reintroduction of mandatory face coverings is one of the measures being considered under the Government’s “Plan B”, but Health Minister Sajid Javid last week played down talks of bringing back some restrictions.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said that Plan B measures would only be brought in “when pressure on the NHS is unsustainable”.
As of October 28, there were 1,063 Covid-19 patients in London hospitals, up from 979 the week prior.
Almost 5.5 million second doses of the COVID vaccine have been given out in London. Though there is currently no data on how many booster shots have been given out in the capital, 5.8 million have been administered across the whole of England.