NHS booking system to open for spring Covid-19 vaccinations

The NHS national booking system will open for spring Covid-19 vaccination bookings on Monday (15 April), with those eligible able to book appointments from the following week.

People at increased risk from severe illness can get the vaccine, including those aged 75 or over (on 30 June 2024), people with a weakened immune system or who live in an older adult care home.

Spring vaccinations will be available until 30 June 2024.

Anyone eligible can book a vaccine appointment via the NHS.UK website or by calling 119 for free, with parents or carers able to book a Covid-19 vaccination for children under 16 on their behalf. Eligible people aged 16 and over can also use the NHS App to book an appointment.

The NHS is sending texts, emails, NHS App messages or letters to those who are eligible, but they do not have to wait for the invite to book.

Monday will also see the start of visits to older adult care homes and eligible household patients. For those that receive all their care at home, a home visit should be arranged via their GP.

Eligibility for a spring vaccination is similar to previous years but those with a weakened immune system are now eligible from 6 months instead of 5 years.

Following JCVI advice, this spring’s eligible cohorts include:

  • Adults aged 75 years and over by 30 June 2024
  • Residents in care homes for older adults
  • Individuals aged 6 months and over who are immunosuppressed.

This year there are thousands of appointments available every day across the country including at pharmacies and GP practices. Some areas also offer convenient walk-in options, with a list of available walk-in sites online.

Covid-19 can still be very dangerous and even life-threatening, particularly for older people and those with a weakened immune system. The vaccine gives good protection and helps reduce the risk of serious illness or death, needing to go to hospital, catching and spreading the virus, and protects against different variants.

UKHSA surveillance data on last year’s spring Covid-19 vaccination programme showed that those who received a vaccine were around 50% less likely to be admitted to hospital with COVID-19 for three to four months after vaccination, compared to those who did not receive one.

Anyone eligible who has not received any previous doses should get vaccinated during this year’s spring offer, to help protect against serious illness.

The NHS is also encouraging those eligible to get the shingles vaccine, which is recommended for all adults turning 65, those aged 70 to 79, and those aged 50 and over with a severely weakened immune system. Anyone eligible should be contacted by their GP surgery to book an appointment.

Steve Russell, NHS national director for vaccinations and screening, said: “This spring, the NHS is offering the Covid-19 vaccine to those that are at highest risk of getting seriously unwell if they catch the virus.

“Covid-19 can still be very dangerous, particularly for older people and those with a weakened immune system, and over time immunity – either from having the virus or from a previous vaccination – can fade, so it is vital that those who are at higher risk top up their protection.

“If you are aged 75 or over or if you or your child have a weakened immune system, then it is vital that you get your vaccine as soon as possible – you can book quickly and easily through the NHS App, by calling 119, or visiting the NHS website, which also lists walk-in sites across the country that you can visit without an appointment.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Director of Immunisations at UK Health Security Agency, said: “With COVID-19 still circulating, it’s important those at highest risk who are eligible for the spring vaccine get their jab to help top up their immunity.

“We are still seeing COVID-19 causing hospitalisations and severe illness particularly among older people and those with weakened immune systems and the vaccine provides the best protection – so don’t put it off, if you’re eligible book your appointment as soon as you’re invited by the NHS.”

Health Minister Maria Caulfield said: “We are committed to protecting the most vulnerable from Covid and this spring programme will give those most at risk of serious illness the protection they need.

“Getting vaccinated is quicker and more convenient than ever, with thousands of sites open across the country including local pharmacies and GP practices.

“I urge anyone eligible to book their appointment as soon as possible.”

A summary of the health conditions, treatments and medications that can cause a weakened immune system is available on the NHS.UK website, and a full definition of immunosuppression can be found in Chapter 14a (table 3) of the Green Book.