NHS in the east of England hits milestone as autumn booster rollout continues

The NHS Covid autumn booster vaccination programme is off to a flying start in the east of England with more than a quarter of a million delivered in just over a fortnight.

NHS leaders are urging people to get vaccinated without delay ahead of a potential ‘twindemic’ of Covid-19 and flu this winter.

Across the east of England, more than 15 million Covid vaccinations have been delivered since the beginning of the vaccination programme in December 2020.

The NHS Covid vaccination programme, the biggest and most successful in health service history, is offering appointments at a record 3,100 sites this autumn including more than 2,100 community pharmacies – with over 600 walk-in sites operating as well.

The autumn booster campaign is among a package of NHS measures to prepare for winter as the health service continues to face record demand on its urgent and emergency care services, including by ramping up bed capacity, increasing the number of 999 and NHS 111 staff, and working with colleagues in social care to ensure patients can be discharged in a timely manner.

Ruth Ashmore, director of commissioning and executive lead for the vaccination programme for the NHS in the east of England, said: “It’s great so many people are coming forward for their life-saving autumn boosters.

“There’s no room for complacency with Covid, and we’re still seeing hundreds of patients with Covid being admitted to hospital every day.”

“The booster vaccine will help protect you and your family from potential serious illness, so do please come forward if you’re eligible.”

The NHS is also offering free flu vaccines to eligible groups this autumn and winter, with more people likely to get the flu this year as fewer people will have built up natural immunity to it during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health and social care workers, people with a weakened immune system, pregnant women and others at greater risk from Covid-19 can already get their jab along with all over 65s.

Earlier this year, over four in five eligible people received a spring booster and the NHS urged those people to get that dose before the end of July to ensure enough time had passed to optimise the protection an autumn booster would provide over winter.

In line with JCVI guidance, the autumn booster will be offered to around 26 million people across England over the coming weeks – including those aged 50 and over, as well as other clinically at risk groups – with over 65s, the immunosuppressed and frontline health and care workers already encouraged to come forward to get their vaccination.

As with previous campaigns, people who are most vulnerable will be called forward first, with people able to book in online or through 119 as long as it has been three months since their last dose.

This month, the NHS is also rolling out this year’s flu vaccine, with eligible people able to get their flu and COVID jab at the same time depending on local system arrangements.