Millions of people will be able to book their flu vaccines online from Monday, as the NHS booking system opens ahead of what could be a challenging winter for the health service.
As part of the NHS’s commitment to make it ever more convenient for people to book in for their winter vaccines, from 8am Monday [2nd October] all eligible adults will be able to book their flu jab appointment through www.nhs.uk/book-a-flu-vaccination, by downloading the NHS App or by calling 119.
New figures show more than 3.7 million people (3,762,591) have already received their flu jabs since the start of the campaign on 11 September, with many people choosing to “do the double” and receive their flu and Covid-19 vaccines at the same time.
During the same period, more than two million (2,357,222) Covid-19 jabs have been delivered, providing vital protection to those at greater risk of severe illness.
Last winter saw NHS staff treating significant numbers of patients in hospital with respiratory illnesses such as flu and Covid-19, and health bosses are encouraging people to come forward for their vaccines as soon as possible to better protect themselves and those around them this winter.
Care home residents were among the first to have had their protection topped-up ahead of colder months when flu, Covid-19 and other viruses circulate more, with NHS teams delivering Covid-19 jabs to more than 6,000 care homes so far – well over a third of all care homes – as well as at community pharmacies, GP practices and other vaccination centres.
Driven by analysis of local data, the NHS vaccination campaign has sent invitations to more than six million eligible adults over the past two weeks, including those with an underlying health condition and people aged 65 and over, to book flu and Covid-19 vaccination appointments.
The vaccination campaign is among a package of NHS measures to prepare for winter, with the health service already facing immense pressure from ongoing industrial action and demand on emergency services, alongside the threat from viruses circulating more during colder months as more people gather together indoors.
The vaccination programme was brought forward based on the latest expert advice following the emergence of the new Covid-19 variant, and the NHS is encouraging everyone eligible to book an appointment to get their flu and Covid-19 vaccines as soon as possible, to protect those most at risk this winter.
Steve Russell, Chief Delivery Officer and National Director for Vaccinations and Screening for NHS England, said: “The NHS winter vaccination programme is already off to a strong start, with almost four million flu vaccinations and more than two million Covid-19 jabs already delivered, offering vital protection ahead of winter.
“Last winter, hospitals saw significant numbers of people being treated for viruses like flu and Covid-19, and vaccines are our best defence – it is important to top up your protection, even if you have had a vaccine or been ill with flu or Covid-19 before, as immunity fades over time and the viruses change each year.
“With tens of thousands of appointments for adult flu vaccinations now available online or by calling 119, we urge people to come forward for both jabs as soon as they can.”
In line with advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, those eligible for a flu vaccine this year include:
- those aged 65 years and over (by 31 March 2024)
- those aged 6 months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups (as defined by the Green Book, chapter 19 (Influenza))
- pregnant women
- all children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2023
- school-aged children (from Reception to Year 11)
- those in long-stay residential care homes
- carers in receipt of carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person
- close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
- frontline workers in a social care setting without an employer led occupational health scheme including those working for a registered residential care or nursing home, registered domiciliary care providers, voluntary managed hospice providers and those that are employed by those who receive direct payments (personal budgets) or Personal Health budgets, such as Personal Assistants
Last year, the NHS carried out its second biggest ever flu vaccination campaign, with more than 21 million flu vaccinations given to adults and children, while more than 17 million COVID-19 jabs were delivered last winter.
Covid vaccinations for those aged 5 to 11 years and eligible for a seasonal vaccination will begin later in October, and the NHS will let eligible families know when this offer opens.
GP practices and other local NHS services have also been contacting people to offer both flu and Covid-19 vaccines, sometimes in the same visit. Where this is not possible, it is better to get each vaccine as soon as you can rather than waiting.