The clinical director of NHS Suffolk and North East Essex’s COVID-19 and Flu Programme has urged eligible people to come forward for a COVID-19 autumn booster jab when invited to do so.
Dr Richard West said this winter will be the first time the virus and flu are in full circulation as people go about life as normal.
As part of the national campaign, clinicians will start vaccinating care home residents and people who are housebound first, from the week of 5 September.
During that week, the National Booking System will open ahead of the wider rollout which is due to start week commencing 12 September.
The NHS will contact eligible people over the coming weeks to invite them to book their appointment for their autumn booster.
Those susceptible to serious illness from COVID-19 and people aged 75 or over will be contacted and invited to book an appointment from mid-September through the National Booking System (www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination) or by calling 119.
Booked appointments for the booster vaccination will be available at a wide variety of sites across Suffolk and north east Essex including GP surgeries, pharmacies, vaccination centres, pop-up clinics and some hospital sites.
Wherever possible, and subject to eligibility, clinicians across Suffolk and north east Essex will endeavour to offer local people a flu vaccination at the same time, as well as other important vaccines such as shingles and pneumonia.
The Government says the main aim of the campaign is to increase protection against severe illness during this winter.
Dr West said: “It is really important that those eligible under the Joint Committee on Vaccination and immunisation (JCVI) advice receive a COVID-19 booster dose as there is a strong possibility of reduced immunity of their previous doses over time.
“Vaccines have saved countless lives and given us all the freedom and confidence back to get on with our lives.
“They have had an enormous impact in weakening the link between the virus, hospitalisations, serious illness and death.
“If you are in the small minority of not having any form of vaccination to date, you can still have the jab; be that a 1st or 2nd dose.
“We would encourage everyone to come forward for their vaccination in order to prevent serious illness.”
The JCVI, which recommends policy to ministers, has advised a booster is offered to the following groups during the autumn:
- all adults aged 50 years and over
- those aged 5 to 49 years in a clinical risk group, including pregnant women
- those aged 5 to 49 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression
- those aged 16 to 49 years who are carers
- residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults
- frontline health and social care workers
In addition, the free flu jab will also be offered to more eligible groups this autumn, including pre-school and primary school children, young people in secondary school years 7 – 9, those aged 50 years and over, as well as people in clinical risk groups.
For further information about vaccination including FAQs and videos at www.sneevaccine.org.uk