Thousands of people aged 50 and over will start receiving covid autumn booster and flu jabs from today (Saturday 15 October), with hundreds of thousands more booked in for the coming days, after the NHS expanded the offer to all over 50s.
The rollout means around 12 million more people will be eligible for their vital autumn booster dose after bookings opened yesterday to people aged 50 and over.
More than seven million people have already had an autumn top-up, and with covid infections and hospitalisations rising in recent weeks, England’s top doctor is today urging anyone eligible to come forward as soon as possible.
NHS medical director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, who is getting his autumn booster today (Saturday) in South West London, said: “Today a huge 12 million more people across the country are able to start receiving their autumn boosters, and with the recent surge in the number of people in hospital with covid, I urge everyone eligible to book their jab as soon as possible to boost your protection from both covid and flu this winter – I for one am not hesitating to make sure that I have maximum protection and will be getting vaccinated at my local GP today.
“The autumn booster rollout has already delivered twice as many vaccines to twice as many people as this time last year – with seven million doses now delivered – but as we face an unprecedented winter and possible ‘twindemic’ we need everyone to come forward in order to keep ourselves, families and communities as safe as possible.”
Record numbers of sites across the country are delivering autumn boosters since the NHS campaign began a month ago – with people able to book an appointment on the National Booking Service or attend a walk-in site.
The NHS is also reminding people this weekend that the offer of autumn booster or flu jab, regardless of when you were first invited, remains open.
Frontline health and social care workers and those at higher risk due to a weakened immune system, a learning disability or pregnancy, as well as all over 65s became eligible last month – with others at risk also able to self-declare. Anyone eligible can book an appointment online or by calling 119.
Approximately 26 million people are eligible for an autumn Covid-19 booster, while as many as 33 million people can get an annual flu jab.
Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor at the UK Health Security Agency, said: “The double threat of widely circulating flu and COVID-19 this year is a real concern, so it’s crucial that you take up the free flu vaccine as soon as possible if you are offered it. It will help protect you from severe flu this winter, and even save your life.
“All those over 50 are now eligible for the jab, many of which will have low natural immunity due to COVID-19 restrictions over the last two years.”
The National Booking Service is also trialling for the first time the ability for people to book their flu vaccine online at around 200 participating sites. Six million eligible people have already had a flu vaccine but others still to get their jab have been able to book online since yesterday with the first appointments available from Monday.
The public can still book flu vaccinations as usual through their GP practice or by visiting one of the many thousands of participating community pharmacies.
For a full list of pharmacies offering a free NHS flu vaccination, including those not part of the NHS pilot, please visit the nhs.uk website.
Pharmacies are taking appointment bookings for flu vaccination online.
More than 133 million Covid vaccines have been administered by NHS staff and volunteers since the first Covid-19 jab was delivered outside of clinical trials to Maggie Keenan in Coventry in December 2020.