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This week, the NHS began their Covid-19 autumn booster and flu jab rollout. Everyone aged 50 and over will be among those offered a COVID-19 booster and a flu jab this autumn under plans to increase protection against respiratory viruses ahead of winter.
The autumn booster rollout began on Monday 5 September, with England’s care home residents, staff and people who are housebound first in line to receive their top up ahead of winter.
Around four million people at highest risk - including over-75s and those with weakened immune systems - will be invited to book a vaccine appointment, with slots on offer at GP surgeries and pharmacies from the following week. A wider rollout will follow on 12 September, which will prioritise the oldest and most vulnerable.
Health experts are predicting a resurgence in Covid and flu for the first time since before the pandemic this autumn and winter. They are urging people eligible to protect themselves from serious illness by getting the newly approved, next generation covid vaccine when invited to do so, as well as the annual flu jab, to ensure maximum protection.
A recently approved vaccine against the Omicron variant, Moderna’s bivalent will be used first however, due to limited numbers of these vaccines, health officials say people should take whichever booster they are offered, as all vaccines provide protection against becoming severely ill or dying from Covid.
Who will get an autumn booster?
Another Covid vaccine dose will be offered to:
adults aged 50 and over
people aged 5 to 49 with health conditions which put them at higher risk - including pregnant women
care home staff
frontline health and social care workers
carers aged 16 to 49
household contacts of people with weakened immune systems
Originally only people aged over 65 were due to be offered another booster, but the programme was expanded in response to the spread of Omicron.
When will the Autumn Booster Rollout start?
The most vulnerable will be prioritised first.
Care home residents and housebound people in England have started getting the booster since 5 September
Since Monday 5 September, another four million people at highest risk - including over-75s and those with weakened immune systems - will be invited to book a vaccine appointment, with slots on offer at GP surgeries and pharmacies from the following week.
A wider rollout will follow on 12 September, which will prioritise the oldest and most vulnerable.
Scotland's autumn booster campaign has also begun on 5 September, with jabs offered to care home residents first, followed by health and social care workers.
Wales has already started offering Covid boosters to care home residents and staff.
Across the UK, the free flu jab is also being offered to more eligible groups this autumn, and some people will be offered it at the same time as their Covid booster.
Covid and flu vaccines may be offered at the same appointment and both jabs are approved to be given at the same time. However, local health systems will organise the rollout in the way that suits them best.
Who will get a free flu jab?
In England, the flu vaccine is offered free to frontline health or social care workers and those who:
are 50 and over
have certain health conditions
are in long-stay residential care
are the main carer for an older or disabled person
Healthy 50-64 year olds won't be offered a jab before mid-October.
A nasal spray form of the flu vaccine, which is more suitable for children, is being offered to:
2 and 3 year-olds
all primary school children up to year 6
secondary school children in years 7, 8 and 9
children aged six months to 17 years with long-term health conditions
The oldest, the youngest and the most vulnerable will be offered a jab first before other groups because they are at higher risk of complications.
If there's enough, children in years 10 and 11 will also be offered a dose.
Booking a flu vaccine
For most people, the flu vaccine will be offered via GPs, midwives and schools. Eligible patients can also book an appointment at a pharmacy.
People are being asked to wait until they are invited before coming forward.
If you are not eligible for a free flu jab, private flu vaccines are available at pharmacies or some supermarkets, at a cost of about £15.