The NHS will kick off the next phase of its world-renowned covid vaccination programme on Monday with a spring campaign to protect the most vulnerable, starting in care homes.
Around five million people in total will be eligible for a spring covid jab, including over 75s, those with a weakened immune system and older adult care home residents.
Those living in care homes will be prioritised and begin to receive vaccinations from Monday (3 April) as roving NHS teams visit homes to offer protection.
Others eligible will be able to book in on the National Booking Service or NHS App from next Wednesday (5 April), for the first appointments available week commencing Monday 17 April.
It will be the first time that millions will be sent their initial invitations through the NHS App, where they can also book, as the NHS continues to expand its technological capabilities.
Text messages and letters will also be sent to those without the app or not actively using it.
The health service – now in its 75th year – has administered more than 144.5 million covid jabs over several vaccination campaigns since Maggie Keenan became the first in the world outside of a clinical trial to receive the vaccination in December 2020.
NHS Director of Vaccinations and Screening, Steve Russell, said: “As a society we are learning to live with covid but for many it is still a virus that can cause serious illness and hospitalisation, and so it is still really important that those at greatest risk come forward and boost their protection in the coming weeks.
“There are still around 8,000 people in hospital with covid according to the latest data, and the NHS has now treated more than one million covid inpatients since the pandemic began.
“So if you are over 75 or you have a weakened immune system, please come forward as soon as possible to book a covid vaccine this spring so you can enjoy summer with peace of mind.”
Steve Barclay, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said: “Our successful vaccination programme has helped us all to live with Covid, saved thousands of lives and protected the most vulnerable from serious disease.
“We’re committed to giving vulnerable people the protection they need from the virus, so I want to encourage those who are 75 or over or who have a weakened immune system to book their booster jab from Wednesday.
“It’s quick and easy and will give the protection you need for the months ahead.”
Dr Mary Ramsay, Director of Immunisation at the UK Health Security Agency, said: “Covid-19 is still circulating widely, and older people are still at greatest risk of more severe illness and being hospitalised.
“Those with weakened immune systems are also vulnerable so it is important everyone who is eligible comes forward for a spring booster to top up their immunity against what is still a serious virus.”
This latest vaccination, is being offered to those considered most at risk, following advice from the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation.
Those invited should make sure their appointment takes place at least three months since their last dose.
Anyone who believes they should be eligible for a vaccine but does not get invited can check online. Alternatively, they can self-declare via the National Booking Service and then speak to a clinician on site.
The last spring vaccination appointments will be offered on 30 June.
COVID-19 vaccinations for everyone who was aged 5 on or before 31 August 2022 will also end after that date, following recent advice from the JCVI. After 30 June, the NHS offer will become more targeted to those at increased risk, usually during seasonal campaigns.
There will be around 3,000 sites across England, with the majority of appointments being delivered in communities by pharmacies and GPs.