Anyone eligible for NHS Covid and flu jabs is being urged to get an appointment ahead of Christmas before bookings close on December 14.

There are still hundreds of thousands of appointments available up and down the country that haven’t been taken up by those eligible who haven’t come forward yet.

Many parents also haven’t had their children vaccinated against winter flu, which can lead to more serious health problems like pneumonia, health officials warn.

“Thousands of youngsters each winter need hospital treatment for flu or its complications,” consultant epidemiologist Dr Jamie Lopez Bernal explained.

“Many of these can be prevented by a simple vaccine which helps stop flu spreading in the family and in the community, protecting the more vulnerable and the elderly such as grandparents.”

Yet more people than ever before have been vaccinated for both Covid and flu in the same appointment for convenience.

Viruses spread more easily as people spend more time indoors in the winter months, the NHS points out. It takes two weeks following vaccination to build up the maximum defences against the viruses.

Those who have had a vaccine or been ill with Covid or flu before are also urged to get their boosters, as immunity fades over time and the viruses mutate.

The 119 phone service can help with bookings before December 15 for those unable to go online.

It is still possible to book flu vaccinations after December 15 through local pharmacies or walk-in centres, however. Those eligible for a free jab after that date can contact their GP surgery or a pharmacy offering the NHS vaccination if they are 18 or over, which end on March 31.

The flu vaccine for children is usually given as a nasal spray, offered in schools until December 15. Parents of pre-school children can book appointments for toddlers who turned two or three in August, or children with certain health conditions, by contacting their GP practice before March 31.

Covid vaccines can be booked through local services until January 31 — but with fewer appointments available and fewer sites to get the jab.