The booking system opens ahead of a potentially challenging winter for the health service, due to ongoing industrial action, demand on emergency services, and a new Covid-19 variant. Chief Delivery Officer and National Director for Vaccinations and Screening for NHS England, Steve Russell, said ‘The NHS winter vaccination programme is already off to a strong start, offering vital protection ahead of winter.’
The vaccination campaign is part of a package to prepare the NHS for the winter months. So far, around 3.7 million have already received their flu jabs since the start of the campaign and over 2 million Covid-19 jabs have also rolled out. Health bosses are urging people to get their vaccines as soon as possible, to better protect themselves and those around them. Steve Russell said, ‘It is important to top up your protection, even if you have had a vaccine or been ill with flu or COVID-19 before, as immunity fades over time and the viruses change each year.’
The programme follows the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant, which as of 17 September saw more than 2,800 patients in hospital with COVID-19. Those eligible for a flu vaccine this year includes those aged 65 years and over, school-aged children, those in long-stay residential care homes, and frontline workers. The NHS has sent invitations to over six million eligible adults over the past two weeks, with more set to receive invitations in the coming weeks. However, people are being urged to book online if they know they are eligible. ‘With tens of thousands of appointments for adult flu vaccinations now available online or by calling 119, we urge people to come forward for both jabs as soon as they can’.