Care home residents and staff are set to be among the first in the world to receive the new, variant-tackling jabs from next week, as the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme moves to the next phase.
The autumn booster rollout will begin on Monday with England’s care home residents, staff and people who are housebound first in line to receive their top up ahead of winter.
Around four million people who are at highest risk, including the over 75s and those with weakened immune systems, will also be eligible to book a vaccine through the National Booking Service next week, with the first appointments available from the following week.
As part of the fastest and largest vaccine drive in NHS history, around 1.6 million care home residents and staff and housebound people will be eligible for the autumn dose from next week.
The NHS will visit hundreds of care homes in the first week with thousands more planned throughout September and October.
Millions of invitations will be landing on doormats from 7 September inviting people to book their appointment without delay as the NHS protects the nation from covid once again ahead of winter. The NHS will contact people when it is their turn to book in.
A record 3,100 sites are expected to be part of the rollout, including GP practices and community pharmacies, with new sites joining the programme all the time.
More than 126 million covid vaccines have been administered since the NHS made history when the first Covid-19 jab was delivered outside of clinical trials to Maggie Keenan in Coventry in December 2020.
NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “The precision and speed of the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme allowed us to get back to a pre-pandemic way of life and doing the things that we love.
“While we know that this winter will be challenging with a likely resurgence in both covid and flu for the first time since before the pandemic, the best way to protect yourselves and your loved ones from serious illness is to get the newly approved, next generation covid vaccine when invited to do so, as well as your annual flu jab, to ensure you have maximum protection.”
NHS director of vaccinations and screening Steve Russell said: “The NHS will begin vaccinating those who are most vulnerable to covid from next week, with the autumn campaign kicking off in care homes from Monday and four million more people will be invited to come forward later in the week.
“NHS staff are gearing up once again to deliver these vaccines at speed rolling out jabs at more than 3,000 sites across England in order to provide the maximum protection ahead of winter.”
The autumn booster campaign is among a package of NHS measures to prepare for winter as the health service continues to face record demand on its urgent and emergency care services, including by ramping up bed capacity, increasing the number of 999 and NHS 111 staff, and working with colleagues in social care to ensure patients can be discharged in a timely manner.
The latest phase of the vaccination drive has undergone extensive planning and local areas have already booked care home residents in for their vaccine to ensure they can get protected at the earliest opportunity.
As with previous campaigns, the oldest and most vulnerable will be 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.
The NHS will continue to advise local sites to allow people with a weakened immune system to self-declare and attend walk-ins to make getting the extra protection as easy as possible.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Our autumn booster programme kicks off from Monday, with care home residents, staff and the housebound the first to receive their jabs.
“An autumn booster will top up the immunity of those most vulnerable to Covid ahead of the winter to help us continue to live with this virus without restrictions.
“Please come forward for your booster and flu vaccine when invited.”
Around 26 million people across England will be eligible for an autumn booster over the comings weeks, which includes over 50s, those with a weakened immune system, health and social care workers and care home residents and housebound people, in line with guidance set out by the JCVI.
More than 126 million covid vaccines have been administered by NHS staff and volunteers since the first Covid-19 jab was delivered outside of clinical trials to Maggie Keenan in Coventry in December 2020.
Well over four in five eligible people received a spring booster earlier this year and the NHS urged those people to get that dose before the end of July in order to ensure enough time had passed to optimise the protection an autumn booster would provide over winter.
The NHS will contact people when it is their turn to book in for the vaccine – you do not need to contact the NHS.
The NHS will also being rolling out the flu vaccine and encouraging eligible people to take up the offer from the first of the month where possible.
Eligible individuals may be offered the flu and Covid jab at the same time subject to supply, with the doses approved to be co-administered.
Local systems will roll the flu jab out in a way that works best for them.
Health and social care staff will also be eligible to get the autumn booster in line with JCVI guidance and in order to ensure NHS staff are protected, all providers are being asked to ensure their staff are offered the autumn jab, co-administering with the flu jab where possible.