Eligible adults can now book their autumn COVID vaccine online, as the NHS steps up its winter vaccination programmes early. Over 30 million people are eligible to receive a flu vaccine and over 20 million can get a COVID jab.
The NHS 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 minimise hospitalisations during busy winter months.
This year’s adult COVID and flu vaccination programme has been brought forward on the advice of scientists following the emergence of a new covid-19 variant (BA.2.86), which has a high number of mutations.
Health chiefs have made sure there’s enough capacity to offer the vaccines to everyone who’s eligible by the end of October, reflecting the risk of the new variant. Over 5,000 sites – more than ever before – are taking part in the campaign this year to make it as easy and convenient as possible for people to get protection.
People eligible during this year’s vaccination campaign include all those 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 those at risk.
It’s important for those who are eligible to top up their protection, even if they’ve had a vaccine or been ill with flu or COVID-19 before, as immunity fades over time and these viruses change each year.
How to book your jabs
Care home residents and people who are housebound have already begun receiving their vaccinations with visits from their local NHS team.
Other adults who are eligible for winter vaccines will receive invitations from the NHS to encourage them to get their COVID and flu jabs.
GP practices and other local NHS services will also be contacting people to offer both flu and COVID vaccines.
Anyone eligible can book a COVID vaccination through the NHS website at https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/covid-19-services/covid-19-vaccination-services/book-covid-19-vaccination/, by downloading the NHS App, or by calling 119 for free.
You can book the flu vaccine by searching online for a local pharmacy. If you don’t qualify for a free flu jab, you can pay for one at a small cost. There’s more information about flu vaccines at www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/prescriptions-and-pharmacies/pharmacy-nhs-flu-vaccine-service/.
Vaccinations for under 18s
COVID-19 vaccinations for those aged under 18 years will open later in the year and the NHS will let eligible families know when this offer opens.
Flu vaccination of children aged two to 17 has already started, and the first invitations to parents of children aged two and three have been or soon will be sent out. Parents are urged to fill out the consent forms for the nasal spray vaccine as soon as they can, which is administered at school and in GP surgeries.
For more information about the 2023 winter vaccination programme, please visit www.england.nhs.uk/2023/08/nhs-flu-and-covid-vaccine-programmes-brought-forward-due-to-risk-of-new-covid-variant/.