South East sees second highest uptake of autumn boosters with others encouraged to come forward for their covid-19 top-up and flu jab

More than 500,000 people have had their covid-19 booster within weeks of the roll-out going live, with others encouraged to come forward for their top-up as well as flu jab.

According to the latest NHS published Covid-19 vaccinations data, 552,905 people in the South East of England have had their covid-19 autumn booster, making the region the second highest performing nationally. This is good news as more and more people get protected ahead of winter.

Currently, those eligible for the first ever variant-targeted booster vaccine include care home residents; the severely immunosuppressed; people aged 65 and over; frontline health and care workers; pregnant women and carers. Other cohorts are due to be introduced shortly.

As with previous campaigns, those most at risk are being 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.

As well as the autumn booster roll-out, flu jabs continue to be delivered at pace across the region with more people urged to come forward if they are eligible free on the NHS.

Caroline Reid, Regional Director of Commissioning and SRO for the Flu and Covid vaccination programme across the South East, said: “We want to help people protect their health as much as possible this winter, especially those who have underlying health conditions or other factors that could put them and others more at risk.

“The flu jab, or flu nasal spray in the case of young children, together with the covid-19 booster, can help by boosting your immunity and protecting you from becoming unwell.

She added: “Hitting the half million mark for autumn boosters is great news but I would encourage everyone that is eligible and contacted by the NHS to take up the offer along with the flu vaccination.

“By protecting yourself and those around you, you will also help the NHS this winter by reducing the number of people that are likely to get seriously ill from catching a respiratory virus and needing to go to hospital.

“Vaccinations are rigorously tested to the highest safety standards.”

This week, alongside the NHS, The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) urged  everyone eligible for a free flu vaccine and covid-19 booster, to take up the offer as soon as possible ahead of what could be a difficult winter with respiratory viruses circulating widely.

International surveillance shows that H3N2 – a subtype of influenza type A – is currently the most-commonly detected flu virus worldwide. H3N2 has recently caused waves of infection in southern hemisphere countries such as Australia, which has also experienced flu circulating earlier than usual in their winter season.