COVID-19: New programme of variant-busting jabs begins in England for the housebound and care home residents and staff
People who are housebound and care home residents and their staff are among the first in the world to receive the new variant-busting COVID-19 jabs from this week.
As the NHS vaccination programme moves into its next phase in England, around 1.6 million people will be eligible for the autumn top-up dose from Monday.
Around four million people who are at highest risk, including the over-75s and those with weakened immune systems, will also be eligible to book a vaccine through the National Booking Service next week, with the first appointments available from the following week.
Teams will visit care homes to vaccinate residents and staff, while those who are unable to go out due to poor mobility or a chronic health condition will be vaccinated at home.
Most are expected to be offered a new bivalent vaccine, which has been developed to protect against the original strain of coronavirus and the Omicron variant.
More than 126 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered since the NHS made history when the first, outside clinical trials, was given to Maggie Keenan in Coventry in December 2020.
Millions of invitations will be landing on doormats from 7 September inviting people to book their appointment. The NHS will contact people when it is their turn to book in.
A record 3,100 sites are expected to be part of the rollout, including GP practices and community pharmacies, with new sites joining the programme all the time.
UK approves ‘next-generation’ COVID vaccine
NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “The precision and speed of the NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme allowed us to get back to a pre-pandemic way of life and doing the things that we love.
“While we know that this winter will be challenging with a likely resurgence in both COVID and flu for the first time since before the pandemic, the best way to protect yourselves and your loved ones from serious illness is to get the newly approved, next generation COVID vaccine when invited to do so, as well as your annual flu jab, to ensure you have maximum protection.”
The autumn booster campaign is among a package of NHS measures to prepare for winter as the health service continues to face record demand on its urgent and emergency care services, including by ramping up bed capacity, increasing the number of 999 and NHS 111 staff, and working closely with professionals in social care.
As with previous campaigns, the oldest and most vulnerable will be called forward first, with people able to book online or via the 119 service – as long as it has been three months since their last dose.
Eligible individuals may be offered the flu and COVID jab at the same time.
COVID rates have been relatively low in recent months, with the UK COVID Alert level downgraded from three to two this week.
A level two alert means that “COVID-19 is in general circulation, but direct healthcare pressures and transmission are declining or stable”.
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