Changes to the autumn/winter COVID-19 and flu vaccination programme

On Wednesday 30 August, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) announced that due to risks presented by the new variant, the NHS should take pre-emptive steps to bring forward the adult COVID-19 and flu vaccination programmes.

This year’s autumn flu and COVID-19 vaccine programmes will now rollout from 18 September in England, as a precautionary measure following the identification of a new COVID-19 variant.

The decision means those most at risk from winter illness – including people in care homes, the clinically vulnerable, those aged 65 and over, health and social care staff, and carers – will be able to access a COVID-19 and flu vaccines from 11 September.

We are urging all those who are eligible to come forward for their COVID-19 and flu vaccinations as soon as they are invited. From the 18 September, the NHS will start to invite people in priority order of risk and those eligible will be able to book an appointment on the National Booking Service.

Wherever possible, vaccinations for flu and COVID-19 will be offered at the same time, making it easier for people to get vital protection from both viruses ahead of winter. There will also be separate COVID-19 and flu clinics.

We will let you know when bookings open. Adult flu and COVID-19 appointments will be available through the NHS App and website, or by calling 119.

Who is eligible for their COVID-19 and flu vaccinations?

Eligibility remains unchanged and is as follows:

Those eligible for a flu vaccine this year include:

  1. those aged 65 years and over
  2. those aged 6 months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups (as defined by the Green Book, chapter 19 (Influenza))
  3. pregnant women
  4. all children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2023
  5. school-aged children (from Reception to Year 11)
  6. those in long-stay residential care homes
  7. carers in receipt of carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person
  8. close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
  9. frontline workers in a social care setting without an employer led occupational health scheme including those working for a registered residential care or nursing home, registered domiciliary care providers, voluntary managed hospice providers and those that are employed by those who receive direct payments (personal budgets) or Personal Health budgets, such as Personal Assistants

Those eligible for an autumn COVID-19 vaccine include:

  1. residents in a care home (now for all CHs)
  2. all adults aged 65 years and over
  3. persons aged 6 months to 64 years in a clinical risk group, as laid out in the Green Book, chapter 14a COVID-19 chapter (Green Book)
  4. pregnant women
  5. frontline health and social care workers
  6. persons aged 12 to 64 years who are household contacts (as defined in the Green Book) of people with immunosuppression
  7. persons aged 16 to 64 years who are carers (as defined in the Green Book) and staff working in care homes for older adults.

“Vaccinations are our best defence against flu and COVID-19 ahead of what could be a very challenging winter. With the potential for this new variant to increase the risk of infection, we are following the latest expert guidance and bringing the COVID-19 vaccination programme forward.
“It’s vital that the most vulnerable groups in our community receive a vaccine to strengthen their immunity over winter to protect themselves and reduce pressure on the NHS. We encourage anyone in Somerset invited for a vaccination to come forward”.

Shona Turnbull – Kirk, Associate Director for Health Inclusion at NHS Somerset

Every year NHS staff pull out all the stops to ensure those at greatest risk are vaccinated and protected against winter viruses. While we know that flu and covid usually hit hardest in December and January, the new covid variant presents a risk now, which is why we will be ensuring as many people as possible are vaccinated against COVID-19 sooner.

Graphic showing eligibility for winter vaccines, groups also included in main text of this news story