MILLIONS of Brits have been urged to book their Covid vaccination as the autumn booster campaign begins.
Vaccines have been being distributed to care home residents and homebound people since last week, and vulnerable groups in England are being invited to take up the life-saving jabs today.
The rollout was brought forward after the rapid emergence of the heavily mutated BA.2.86 strain sparked fears of a surge in infections and hospitalizations.
It comes as almost half of the world’s confirmed cases of the new Covid variant ‘Pirola’ have been found in the UK.
The mutant strain was also the cause of an outbreak at a nursing home in Norwich.
There is currently no evidence that Pirola causes new or more severe symptoms than other Omicron variants.
NHS England (NHSE) said 20 million Brits will be eligible for a Covid-19 booster vaccination today.
- People aged 65 and over
- pregnant woman
- People with underlying health conditions
- Nursing home residents
- Frontline health and care workers
- unpaid carers
- Household contacts of the people at risk
Vaccination for those under 18 will begin later in the year, NHSE said, adding that families would be informed of the appointment.
If you are now eligible, you can book your vaccination on the NHS website, the NHS app or by calling 119 – it only takes a few minutes.
GP practices and other local NHS services will also be reaching out to people to offer Covid vaccines and you are likely to be invited for a flu jab at the same time.
Steve Russell, NHS director of vaccinations and screening, said: “Vaccines are our best protection against flu and Covid-19 and I strongly encourage everyone who is eligible to come forward for their life-saving winter vaccines as quickly as possible.”
“The new Covid variant poses a new risk, but NHS staff are once again rising to the challenge and doing everything they can to protect the public.”
He urged eligible groups to come forward and book their vaccine as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Dr. Mary Ramsay, head of immunization at UKHSA, said: “We are already seeing a slow rise in cases of COVID-19 as well as an increase in hospital admissions, particularly among the over-75s.”
“Older people and people in clinical risk groups continue to be at higher risk of serious illness. It is therefore important that everyone who is eligible comes forward when offered and protects themselves from flu and COVID.”