The lifesaving NHS winter vaccination programme has delivered more than ten million flu jabs (10,527,579) and over seven million Covid vaccines (7,525,637) to people most at risk across England in just over five weeks, making this the fastest NHS flu vaccine roll out on record.
A record three million people have received their flu and Covid vaccines in the same appointment, as vaccine providers make it as convenient as possible for people to get protected ahead of winter.
On Monday the national booking system opened up for those eligible to book an appointment to have both flu and Covid vaccines given at the same time.
While analysis also shows that this year has seen the fastest ever rollout of Covid-19 vaccines to care homes by NHS teams, with more care homes visited in the first five weeks of this campaign than in previous rollouts.
More than 12,000 care homes have been visited already – over 80% of all care homes in England.
Despite these efforts, millions more eligible people are being urged to get their lifesaving Covid and flu vaccines to reduce the risk of infection.
The number of patients in hospital with Covid hit a five-month high of 4,205 patients on 8 October – up 14% on the previous week.
Care home residents were among the first to be offered the winter vaccines, to top up their protection ahead of winter when Covid, flu and other viruses circulate most as people spend more time indoors.
Over a third of all winter vaccines have been delivered already to those eligible, and over a third of 65 and overs have had the Covid jab.
The NHS is continuing to invite all those eligible for winter vaccinations to come forward and book appointments – so far over 16 million invitations have been sent, including to those aged 65 and those with certain health conditions.
Today reminders are also being sent to almost one million parents of 2 to 3 year olds to encourage them to book their child’s flu vaccination at their GP practice.
Over four million Covid vaccination appointments have been booked via the NHS website, NHS App, or calling 119 – with one in five Covid vaccine bookings made via the App.
The autumn 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, demand on emergency services, alongside the risk of a new Covid variant, and common winter viruses.
Chief Delivery Officer and National Director for Vaccinations and Screening for NHS England, Steve Russell said: “These uptake figures are very encouraging, and show the NHS is making excellent progress in helping those most at risk of life-threatening flu and COVID-19 viruses, get the protection they need this winter, but we want to ensure even more people are booking appointments.
“NHS teams have delivered Covid vaccines to care home residents faster than ever before, over 10 million people have received a flu vaccine, and staff at thousands of vaccine sites right across England continue to work hard to ensure that as many eligible people receive this vital protection as quickly and conveniently as possible.
“We know things start to get more pressured for the NHS at this time of year – this year even more so than others with industrial action – but vaccination is one of the best ways to prevent people from getting sick this winter and with hundreds of thousands of vaccine appointments available – I urge everyone eligible to please come forward and book your vaccinations today.”
With the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant (BA.2.86) in England, the NHS brought forward its lifesaving vaccination programme following the latest scientific advice.
NHS staff have worked hard to ensure the efficient and effective rollout of the vaccination programme, with almost 5,000 sites – more sites than ever before – taking part in the campaign this year to make it as easy and convenient as possible for people to get protection.
People eligible for both winter vaccines include all aged 65 and over, those that are pregnant, those aged 6 months and above with certain health conditions, care home residents, frontline health and social care staff, unpaid carers and household contacts of people with a weakened immune system.
Health Minister, Maria Caulfield, said: “With the vaccination programme rolling out earlier this year, I’m delighted that over 18 million Covid and flu jabs have been administered, with three million people getting jabbed in the same appointment and taking the important step to protect themselves and their loved ones this winter.”
“Our NHS staff are doing a wonderful job and the National Booking System is now open so, if you are eligible, please do take up the offer and get your Covid and flu jabs as soon possible.”
Even if people have previously had a vaccination or been ill with flu or COVID-19 before, immunity fades over time and these viruses change each year, so it is important people top up their protection.
More than 30 million people in England are entitled to receive a free flu vaccine and over 20 million can get a Covid jab via the NHS Winter Vaccination Programme.
All eligible adults can book their flu and COVID-19 vaccinations by visiting www.nhs.uk/seasonalvaccinations or on the NHS App. GP practices and other local NHS services will also be contacting people to offer both flu and Covid vaccines, and people can book the flu vaccine by searching online for a local pharmacy.
In addition, all school aged children are receiving their flu vaccines through school or community clinics and children aged two or three years old can get the flu vaccine through their GP practice. The flu vaccine in children is usually given as a quick and painless spray up the nose.
Covid vaccination bookings for eligible under 18s will begin later in the year, and the NHS will let families know when this offer opens.
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 jabs were delivered last winter.
Earlier this year, NHS England announced more than 86 million Covid vaccination appointments have been arranged using the NHS’s national online booking system since its launch two years ago.