Winter vaccines update

01 September 2023

Winter vaccines update

On Wednesday 30 August, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced that this year's autumn flu and COVID-19 vaccine programmes will start earlier than planned in England.  

The annual NHS flu vaccination programme will begin from today, Friday 1 September 2023 for children, with both flu and COVID-19 top-up booster vaccines for adults who are at a higher risk now set to start on Monday, 11 September in England, such as care home residents and those who are housebound.  

The national booking system for COVID-19 boosters will open up to all other eligible groups from Monday 18 September via NHS.UK, the NHS App or by calling 119, with national invitations also being sent out from this date. The aim is to vaccinate as many eligible people as possible by 31 October 2023. 

It doesn't matter if you are young or old, flu is a serious and very easily spread respiratory infection which makes it one of the biggest causes of short-term illness in the UK.  

Bringing the winter vaccination programme forward is a precautionary measure by the Government following the identification of a new COVID-19 variant, BA.2.86, which was first detected in the UK on Friday 18 August. Although this variant is not currently classed as a variant of concern, it is still important to build protection in those at greater risk of severe illness. 

Eligible residents should have the flu vaccine every year as the variation of flu changes from year to year. Both the flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster are safe and effective. 

In a change to the national flu programme last autumn, for the 2023/24 season residents aged 65 and over will be invited to receive a flu vaccination, with all secondary school age children (Year 7 to Year 11) also now confirmed. Primary school age children and children aged two or three years old continue to be eligible for a flu vaccine, as are pregnant women. 

In East Riding, public health and the local NHS vaccination team are encouraging more people to come forward or provide consent for their child when they receive a vaccine invite and to make sure they read trusted sources of information given via the NHS, their GP or through the local schools' vaccine provider. 

The council's public health nurse consultant, Zoe Stevens, said: "Vaccination remains the best defence against flu or COVID-19 and can help eligible people to reduce the chance of catching a virus and becoming severely ill. Additionally, in protecting yourself, you are helping to protect the rest of the community and our most vulnerable residents." 

Zoe added: "The best time to have a flu or booster vaccine is in early autumn to build protection ahead of the peak months of the spread of these viruses in December and January. Flu is a lot more than a 'common cold' and, in the worst cases, can be dangerous in young children or older people, as well as those at higher risk for various health reasons. For children, the flu vaccine is just a quick and painless nasal spray, but please speak your GP or school nurse if you have any questions." 

Even if you are not able to get the free NHS flu vaccine, check with your employer as they may offer a free scheme for staff, alternatively anyone over the age of 16 can also book a private flu vaccine from many high street pharmacies for around £13 to £20. 

From September, pre-school children will receive a flu vaccine invite from their GP, school-age children will be given a consent form for parents to complete to have the flu vaccine in school and parents and guardians of home-schooled children will also be contacted to attend a clinic.  

NHS invites will go out to adults listed in the groups below, with vaccinations offered by your GP surgery, a community pharmacy if aged 18 or over or even some maternity services if you are pregnant. 

Be assured your GP or local NHS will get in touch if you are eligible for flu or the COVID-19 booster. 

Find a pharmacy that offers the NHS flu vaccine - NHS - NHS (www.nhs.uk) 

The council will also promote any local clinics on social media. 

Eligible groups for the NHS COVID-19 booster are:  

  • residents in a care home for older adults 
  • all adults aged 65 years and over 
  • persons aged 6 months to 64 years in a clinical risk group 
  • frontline health and social care workers 
  • persons aged 12 to 64 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression 
  • persons aged 16 to 64 years who are carers and staff working in care homes for older adults. 

Eligible groups for the NHS flu vaccine are:  

  • all children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2023 
  • all primary school aged children (from reception to year 6) 
  • secondary school-aged children (years 7, 8 ,9, 10 and 11) 
  • those aged 6 months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups 
  • pregnant women 
  • those aged 65 years and over (including those who are 64 but will be 65 on or before 31 March 2024)
  • those in long-stay residential care homes and other long-stay care facilities where rapid spread is likely to follow introduction of infection and cause high morbidity and mortality 
  • carers in receipt of carer's allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person 
  • close contacts of immunocompromised individuals 
  • frontline workers in a social care setting without employer led occupational health schemes including those working for: a registered residential care or nursing home; registered domiciliary care providers; voluntary managed hospice providers, or those that are employed by those who receive direct payments (personal budgets) or Personal Health Budgets, such as Personal Assistants. 

More information on this programme change is available on the GOV.UK website: Flu and COVID autumn vaccine programmes brought forward - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

Information on winter vaccinations can be found on the NHS website: How to stay well in winter - NHS (www.nhs.uk) 

 

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