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Autumn Covid booster: Who is eligible and can you book them now?

by Press room

The NHS has started dishing out Covid booster jabs amid concerns about a mutant variant that is sweeping the country. 

Care home residents and those who are housebound are the first to get a top-up jab as part of the autumn rollout in England, which kicked off today.

The scheme was brought forward by an entire month to boost protection among the most vulnerable amid fears that the Pirola variant would trigger a fresh wave and overwhelm the NHS.

Some 34 infections caused by the Omicron spin-off have been confirmed in England but health chiefs warn that the true scale of the outbreak is much bigger as hardly anyone is testing for the virus.  

Here, MailOnline details all you need to know about the Covid autumn rollout.   

Care home residents and those who are housebound are the first to get a top-up jab as part of the autumn rollout in England, which kicked off today

Who is eligible for a Covid booster?

Those at highest risk of severe illness from Covid will be offered a booster jab.

  • residents in a care home for older adults
  • all adults aged 65 years and over
  • people aged 6 months to 64 years in a clinical risk group
  • frontline health and social care workers
  • people aged 12 to 64 years who live with someone who is immunosuppressed
  • people aged 16 to 64 years who are carers and staff working in care homes for older adults

Those in a clinical risk group include people with a chronic respiratory, heart, kidney or liver disease, as well as those with diabetes, immunosuppression — such as chemotherapy patients — and severe mental illness. The group also includes pregnant women and those who are morbidly obese. 

It marks a departure from the booster rollout last autumn, when all over-50s were offered a top-up shot.

However, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which advises officials on the scheme, said it should be limited to over-65s for 2023.

Covid and flu vaccines will only be offered to over-65s this winter, health chiefs confirmed

Covid and vaccines will be offered to over-65s this year, as well as care home residents and NHS staff 

Who can get the jab now?

Residents of care homes for older adults and those who are housebound are being prioritised as they are considered at most risk from Covid. 

They will begin receiving a booster jab from today.

When can other groups get jabbed?

The NHS will invite more groups to get their booster from next week.

People may also be offered a jab sooner by their GP or other local NHS service.

How can I book a jab?

The NHS will contact those who are eligible.

These groups will be able to book their jabs from 18 September through the NHS website, the NHS App or by calling 119.  

Which vaccines are being used?

Covid vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Sanofi/GSK will be used in the autumn campaign. 

Each of these vaccines have been updated so they are more effective against new Covid variants. 

Why should I get a Covid booster?

The NHS is encouraging those eligible to get their autumn booster vaccine ‘as soon as they can and not delay’.

Health chiefs are worried about the BA.2.86 Covid strain that is sweeping the UK and is significantly more mutated than other circulating variants. 

Those eligible for a booster are deemed the most at risk and the vaccine will increase their protection against severe illness, hospitalisation and death due to Covid ahead of the winter period — when cases are expected to spike. 

Even eligible people who have had previous jabs and Covid infections should come forward for a booster, as immunity wanes over time, the NHS says.

Steve Russell, NHS England director of vaccinations and screenings, said: ‘With concerns arising over new covid variants, it’s vital we adapt the programme and bring it forward for those most at risk, and so I strongly urge everyone eligible to come forward as soon as they can for this important protection in colder months.

‘NHS staff have worked hard to ensure services are ready for patients to get jabbed at an earlier stage so they can get their protection as soon as possible.’

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the UK Health Security Agency said: ‘Older people and those in clinical risk groups remain at highest risk of serious illness from Covid.’

She added: ‘The vaccine continues to provide the best protection against serious illness and hospitalisation from Covid, so please make sure you get vaccinated when offered and encourage loved ones who are eligible to do the same’.

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