The NHS will kick off the next phase of its world-renowned covid vaccination programme on Monday with a spring campaign to protect the most vulnerable, starting in care homes.
Around 3 million people in the South West will be eligible for a spring covid jab, including over 75s, those with a weakened immune system and older adult care home residents.
Those living in care homes will be prioritised and begin to receive vaccinations from Monday 3rd April as roving NHS teams visit homes to offer protection.
Others eligible will be able to book an appointment via the National Booking Service or NHS App from next Wednesday 5th April, for the first appointments available week commencing Monday 17th April.
It will be the first time that millions will be sent their initial invitations through the NHS App, where they can also book, as the NHS continues to expand its technological capabilities.
Text messages and letters will also be sent to those without the app or not actively using it.
The national health service – now in its 75th year – has administered more than 144.5 million covid jabs, with over 16 million in the South West, since Maggie Keenan became the first in the world, outside of a clinical trial, to receive the vaccination in December 2020.
NHS South West’s Medical Director, Dr Michael Marsh, said:
“As a society we are learning to live with covid, but it’s still out there and for many it is still a virus that can cause serious illness and hospitalisation. Immunity from the vaccine wanes over time, especially in the older and more vulnerable cohorts, so it continues to be really important that those at greatest risk come forward and boost their protection in the coming weeks.
“There are still around 8,000 people in hospital across England with covid according to the latest data, and the NHS has now treated more than one million covid inpatients since the pandemic began. So if you are over 75 or you have a weakened immune system, please come forward as soon as possible to book a covid vaccine this spring so you can enjoy summer with peace of mind.”
This latest vaccination is being offered to those considered most at risk, following advice from the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation.
Those invited should make sure their appointment takes place at least three months since their last dose.
Anyone who believes they should be eligible for a vaccine but does not get invited can check online. Alternatively, they can self-declare via the National Booking Service and then speak to a clinician on site.
Dr Kheelna Bavalia, NHS South West’s Medical Director for Primary Care, added:
“We have over 322 sites across the South West gearing up to deliver the spring vaccine, with the majority of appointments being delivered in communities by pharmacies, GPs, and their teams. It’s important to remember that the spring vaccine offer runs until 30th June, after which it will come to an end. However, we’re committed to giving vulnerable people the protection they need from the virus, so I want to encourage those who are 75 or over or who have a weakened immune system to book their booster jab from Wednesday.”
Following recent advice from JCVI, in addition to the spring vaccination offer coming to an end on 30th June, the first or second dose COVID-19 vaccinations for everyone who has yet to receive a vaccine, who was aged 5 on or before 31 August 2022, will also end on that date. This means if you want to receive both initial doses, you will have to have your first dose before the 5th May to be able to have the second by the cut-off date.
After 30th June, the NHS offer will become more targeted to those at increased risk, usually during seasonal campaigns, which means this may be the last opportunity for some people to receive a vaccine through this programme.