Millions eligible for covid vaccine this autumn in the North West

Residents of older adult care homes and people who are housebound in the North West will begin receiving their covid and flu vaccinations from today (11 September), as the NHS kickstarts the winter vaccinations campaign.

More than 2.7 million people in the region are eligible for the latest dose of the covid vaccine, with winter vaccination starting earlier than planned following expert JCVI advice due to the risks presented by a new covid variant.

Protecting those at greatest clinical risk first, the programme will start with care homes and people who are housebound. Other eligible groups will begin to receive invites to get their top up protection ahead of winter from next week.

NHS staff have worked hard to prepare for the earlier start of the programme and hundreds of sites in the North West will be offering jabs this year to make it as easy as possible for people to get protected.

The flu vaccine will also be rolled out to those eligible and the NHS is encouraging people to get both vaccinations as soon as they can and not delay, due to the risk of the new COVID-19 variant and ahead of the winter period.

It is important for those who are eligible to top up their protection, even if they have had a vaccine or been ill with flu or COVID-19 before, as immunity fades over time and these viruses change each year.

Last year, the NHS faced the ‘twindemic’ of flu and covid with high occupancy in hospitals and record pressure on staff and plans for this winter are already underway.

Dr Linda Charles-Ozuzu, Regional Director of Commissioning and senior responsible officer for the COVID-19 vaccination programme for NHS England – North West, said: “As we approach the winter months, and with concerns growing over a new covid variant, it’s more important than ever to protect our most vulnerable with both the covid and flu vaccines.

“The vaccines continue to provide the best protection against serious illness and hospitalisation from COVID-19 and flu, so please make sure you get vaccinated when offered and encourage loved ones who are eligible to do the same.”

Following guidance and announcements from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), NHS England brought forward its covid and flu vaccination programme, which was originally due to commence at the beginning of October.

People will be able to book their Covid vaccinations from 18 September, through the NHS website, the NHS App or by calling 119.

Eligible groups may also be offered a vaccination sooner by GP surgeries or other local NHS services.

In total more than 18.2 million COVID-19 vaccinations have been given in the North West since the programme started in December 2020.

Last year, in the North West, more than 2.8 million people were given a flu vaccine and more than 2 million eligible people received the COVID-19 autumn dose.