More than 140,000 COVID-19 vaccines have been given in just one week in the North West, since the National Booking Service (NBS) opened, providing vital protection to the most vulnerable.
It’s part of more than 188,000 autumn doses given in the region since the programme began earlier this month. The vaccine was offered to residents and staff in care homes for older adults first, before the NBS opened on 18 September, and NHS COVID-19 vaccination teams have already visited almost one-third of the region’s care homes.
And more than 300,000 people have also received their flu vaccination across the region.
Thousands of people have chosen to take up both offers at the same time, making getting protected against winter viruses easy and convenient.
The NHS sent invitations to around 1.5 million eligible adults nationally last week, including people aged 65 and over, and those with underlying health conditions to book their flu and COVID-19 vaccination appointments.
In the next week there are more than 122,000 COVID-19 vaccine appointments available in the North West to book on the National Booking Service. Eligible people can also book an appointment through the NHS App or by calling 119.
This year, a record number of vaccination sites – around 600 – are offering the COVID-19 and flu vaccinations across the North West, including vaccination centres, pharmacies and GP practices. Nationally more than one million appointments have already been booked.
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.
There were just over 1,000 patients in hospitals nationally with covid on July 20, but by the end of August that figure had risen to over 2,500, and the latest figures for September 17 show more than 2,800 patients in hospital had COVID-19.
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.
The NHS is encouraging everyone eligible to book an appointment for their COVID-19 and flu vaccines as soon as possible, to protect those most at risk this winter.
Dr Linda Charles-Ozuzu, Regional Director of Commissioning and senior responsible officer for the COVID-19 vaccination programme for NHS England – North West, said: “It’s great news that so many people have come forward to take up their COVID-19 vaccination in the first week since the National Booking Service opened, and I’d encourage anyone who is eligible for a COVID-19 or flu vaccine to book one of the thousands of appointments we have available in the North West over the coming weeks, ahead of winter.
“The vaccines continue to provide the best protection against serious illness and hospitalisation from COVID-19 and flu. As winter approaches and the NHS deals with another variant of COVID-19, it’s as important as ever to ensure those most vulnerable are protected, as well as helping to protect the NHS.”
“There are hundreds of sites offering both COVID-19 and flu vaccinations across our region, so it’s more convenient than ever to get your vaccines.”
The NHS’s winter flu and covid vaccination programme provides vital protection to those eligible and their families over winter, keeping people from developing serious illnesses, and helping to minimise hospitalisations during busy winter months.
In total over 30 million people in England are entitled to receive a free flu vaccine and over 20 million can get a COVID-19 vaccine via the NHS Winter Vaccination Programme.
People eligible during this year’s vaccination campaign include all aged 65 and over, care home residents, frontline health and social care staff, those at increased risk because they are pregnant or have a certain underlying health condition, unpaid carers and household contacts of people with a weakened immune system.
Health chiefs are encouraging pregnant women to get their vaccines, which they can get at any stage of their pregnancy. If mums-to-be are concerned or have any questions regarding these vaccinations, they should speak to their GP, midwife or hospital team.
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.
Covid vaccinations for those aged under 18 years and eligible for a seasonal vaccination will begin later in the year, and the NHS will let eligible families know when this offer opens.
In total more than 18.3 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.
Flu vaccination of children aged two to 17 has begun, and more than 1.2 million texts and emails were sent to parents of 2-3 year olds last week inviting them to get their flu jab, alongside a reminder to get an MMR vaccination if not up to date.