Autumn vaccination programme update

This autumn, all adults aged 50 and over will be offered a COVID-19 booster and a flu jab to increase protection against respiratory viruses ahead of the winter.   

Autumn vaccination programme update

The NHS booking site for autumn boosters first opened last week for those who are aged 75 and over, immunosuppressed or frontline health and social care workers. On Monday 13 September, the NHS added more eligible groups to the booking system. 

The NHS booking site is currently open for autumn COVID-19 boosters for those who are:  

  • aged 65 and over  
  • aged five and over and immunosuppressed  
  • pregnant 
  • carers aged 16 +  
  • aged five to 64 years who are household contacts of anyone immunosuppressed  
  • aged five to 64 years in a clinical risk group  
  • frontline health and social care workers.  

The above groups do not need to wait for an invite and can book directly online on the NHS booking site Book or manage a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination - NHS (www.nhs.uk) or call 119.  

It is important to note, the appointment dates offered will start from three months (91 days) after the previous dose in order to maximise the protection of the vaccine throughout the winter.  

The vaccination of those living or working in a care home for older adults also began last week across East Riding and nationally, supported by the primary care networks (PCNs) and local GP practices. 

The NHS will get in contact and announce when it’s time for all adults aged 50 to 64 to book their autumn booster, via text, phone call or letter, once the above groups have been booked in.  

Read more about the national programme rollout on the NHS website at How to get a booster dose of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine - NHS (www.nhs.uk)  

Remember, autumn boosters can only be given at least three months after a previous dose.  

There has already been a great uptake for our local NHS clinics across the East Riding already, so please be assured that there are more dates and clinics to come over the next few weeks if you can’t get an appointment straight away.  

You might find it useful to check COVID Vaccination Locations in Hull and East Riding | Vaccinate Hull and East Riding to give you an idea of some of the forthcoming dates and venues, but the local NHS vaccine team advice is to check the National Booking Service for specific details and to book a guaranteed appointment. 

What about the free NHS flu vaccine? 

For those that are eligible for the NHS flu vaccine this autumn and winter, invites are currently being sent out by the NHS, with priority groups invited to come forward for their vaccine first. 

If you are eligible, you can book an appointment at your GP surgery or a pharmacy that offers it on the NHS. The flu vaccine will be distributed in batches, so you are advised to wait for your GP to get in contact. 

Intrahealth are sending out consent forms to parents and guardians through schools for those in reception up to Year 6 and will be booking dates in for primary school vaccination clinics (children are generally offered the nasal spray form of the flu vaccine). The schools’ immunisation provider will also contact the parents and guardians of those home-schooled or not in mainstream education. Children aged 2 and 3 years (on 31 August 2022) will be offered the vaccination at their GP usually by the practice nurse. 

This autumn, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has widened the offer of the free flu vaccine to more eligible groups in England, including:  

  • All adults aged 50 to 64 years (including those aged 50 by 31 March 2023)   
  • Secondary school children in Years 7, 8 and 9, who will be offered the vaccine in order of school year (starting with the youngest first).  

These additional groups will only be eligible once the most vulnerable, including pre-school and primary school children, those aged 65 and over and those in clinical risk groups, have been offered the jab.  

The NHS expect the invitations for those aged 50 to 64 to go out from mid-October. If you are in this age group and have a long-term health condition that puts you at risk from flu, you do not have to wait until mid-October. 

The eligibility list for the NHS free flu vaccine also includes those who:  

  • are 65 and over (including those who will be 65 by 31 March 2023) 
  • have certain health conditions 
  • are pregnant 
  • are in long-stay residential care 
  • receive a carer's allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick 
  • live with someone who is more likely to get a severe infection due to a weakened immune system, such as someone living with HIV, someone who has had a transplant, or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis 
  • are frontline health workers 
  • are social care workers who cannot get the vaccine through an occupational health scheme at work 
  • are aged two or three years on 31 August 2022 (born between 1 September 2019 and 31 August 2020) 
  • are primary school children (Reception to Year 6) 
  • are aged two to 17 years with long-term health conditions. 

The best time to have the flu vaccine is in the autumn or early winter before flu starts spreading. For more information about eligible groups and how and where to book, visit Flu vaccine - NHS (www.nhs.uk)  

Frequently Asked Questions 

  1. Why is it so important to get vaccinated, if you can? 

The main aim of the COVID-19 autumn booster programme is to increase immunity in those at a higher risk of severe COVID-19 this winter. The NHS is inviting more than 26 million people to get their autumn booster this year, in line with Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) guidance. 

This will be the first winter since the pandemic that we experience the full impact of COVID-19 and flu in ‘normal life’ and so public health and the NHS are advising anyone who is more vulnerable or at a higher risk to serious illness from these viruses to get their autumn booster and/or flu vaccine as soon as they are invited or able, to protect themselves and our healthcare system. 

Public health is also encouraging those that live or work with more vulnerable people to get their booster and flu jab if they can, to help reduce the spread of the viruses and protect others. 

2. I’ve had the flu jab and a COVID-19 booster before, why do I need to have them again? 

If you are eligible for the flu vaccine, it is important to get it every year because the viruses that cause flu change every year. This means the flu (and the vaccine) this year may be different from last year. 

It is more important than ever to get the flu vaccine as fewer people will have built up natural immunity to it during the COVID-19 pandemic. As well as protecting you and the people around you, vaccination also helps the healthcare system by reducing the number of people that are likely to get seriously ill from catching a virus and needing to go to hospital. While flu is unpleasant for most, it can be very dangerous and even life threatening for some people, particularly with certain health conditions. 

If you get flu and COVID-19 at the same time, research shows you are more likely to be seriously ill. If you are offered both vaccines, it's safe to have them at the same time. 

Viruses, including COVID-19, spread much more easily in winter when we socialise indoors, so it is important that everyone who can, tops up their protection with an autumn booster. This will help protect everyone in our communities, workplaces, schools and households. 

If you haven’t had a flu vaccine before, it is worth checking if you will get one for free through the NHS due to a widening in eligibility in England this year (see above for those over 50 and secondary school children). 

3. I’m pregnant/breastfeeding, do I still need to get vaccinated? 

The COVID-19 vaccine continues to be strongly recommended for both pregnant and breastfeeding women by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and the autumn booster will be offered to pregnant women.  

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and Royal College of Midwives (RCM) have a decision guide and other information you may find helpful on COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy. 

COVID-19 vaccines do not contain live coronavirus and cannot infect a pregnant woman or unborn baby. If you have COVID-19 later on in your pregnancy, both you and your unborn baby are at increased risk of serious disease needing hospital treatment.  

Speak to your midwife or GP if you have any questions – or visit the NHS website at Pregnancy and coronavirus (COVID-19) - NHS (www.nhs.uk) 

You should have the flu vaccine as well if you are pregnant to help protect you and your baby. It is also safe to have both the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine together if offered at the same time, and studies show that the antibodies your own body produces in response to COVID-19 vaccination also help with the baby’s own immunity to the virus. 

4. I have got COVID or have symptoms – should I cancel my booster vaccination or flu vaccine? 

If you or your child have COVID-19, or symptoms of COVID-19 but have not had a test, you should wait until your symptoms are better before you get a COVID-19 vaccine. 

You should ideally: 

  • wait 4 weeks (28 days) if you’re aged 18 years old or over 
  • wait 12 weeks (84 days) if you're aged 5 to 17 years old 
  • wait 4 weeks (28 days) if you're aged 12 to 17 years old and at high-risk from COVID-19. 

If you are feeling generally unwell, for instance if you have a high temperature it is advised to wait seven days before getting your booster. Those with long-term illness however, should attend their vaccination when invited. 

In relation to the flu vaccine, if you have a high temperature, you are advised to wait to have your flu vaccine. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 you should also wait to get the flu vaccine to protect others. 

5. I’ve been hearing about a new double COVID-19 vaccine – what is it and will everyone get this for their autumn booster? 

New ‘bivalent’ vaccines that target both the ‘2020’ and Omicron coronavirus variants have been approved for adult autumn booster doses by the MHRA, who are assured they meet UK safety standards. ‘Bivalent’ vaccines provide a broader level of immunity and therefore potentially improve protection against different variants of COVID-19.   

Following recommendations by the JCVI and UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), public health and the NHS are keen to reassure people that the timing of an autumn booster is the most important consideration, rather than the type of booster they are offered.  

So rather than waiting for a bivalent vaccine, the key message is to accept the vaccine you are offered, as all of the available booster vaccines offer very good protection against severe illness from COVID-19 and hospitalisation. 

6. What about those not entitled to a free NHS flu vaccine? Can they pay for a jab? 

If you are not eligible for an NHS vaccine, many employers run a voucher scheme for a free flu vaccine so it is worth telling family and friends to check, alternatively you will be able to pay around £11 to £17 for a private vaccine at a local pharmacy or supermarket.   

7. Is it too late for someone to get the first or second COVID-19 dose or first booster? 

If you or someone you know still needs to get a first or second COVID-19 vaccine, it is not too late, but be mindful you would still have to wait three months before getting an autumn booster (if still applicable). 

Everyone aged five and over can get a first and second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Those aged 16 and over, and some children aged 12 to 15, can also get a primary booster dose. 

Please note, children who turned five on or after 1 September 2022 can only get a first and second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine if they're either: 

  • at high risk due to a health condition or because of a weakened immune system 
  • living with someone who has a weakened immune system. 

The easiest way to find a clinic is to visit vaccinatehullandeastriding.co.uk and find a local or accessible walk-in clinic or vaccine bus date (please check the age group on offer at each site). There is no need to book for these, just come along. Alternatively, head to the National Booking Service if you prefer to pre-book an appointment. If you have any questions or worries, your local vaccine team will be happy to help, just pop in. 

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