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 750,000 people in the east of England will be eligible for a spring Covid jab, including over 75s, those with a weakened immune system and older adult care home residents.
There will be more than 400 sites available for the spring vaccine across the east of England, with the majority of appointments being delivered in communities by pharmacies and GPs.
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.
Ruth Ashmore, the NHS’s lead for the vaccination programme in the east of England, said:
“Whilst we are learning to live with Covid, for many people it can still cause serious illness and require care in hospital, so it is important those at the greatest risk come forward to boost their protection.
“There are still about 750 people in our region’s hospitals with Covid, and across the country the NHS has treated more than one million Covid inpatients since the pandemic began.
“If you are over 75 or you have a weakened immune system, please come forward as soon as possible to book your Covid jab this spring so you can enjoy the summer ahead.”
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 (JCVI).
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 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.