Autumn Covid Booster Shots: Eligibility and Booking Availability Revealed!

The NHS Rolls Out Covid Booster Jabs Amid Concerns about Mutant Variant

The NHS has started administering Covid booster jabs to protect against a mutant variant that is spreading across the country. The autumn rollout in England began today, prioritizing care home residents and those who are housebound. The scheme was accelerated by a month to provide additional protection to the most vulnerable individuals amid fears of a surge in cases that could overwhelm the NHS.

Although only 34 infections caused by the Omicron spin-off have been confirmed in England, health officials warn that the true scale of the outbreak is likely much larger due to limited testing for the virus. To help you stay informed about the Covid autumn rollout, MailOnline has compiled all the essential information below:

Who Is Eligible for a Covid Booster?

  1. Residents in a care home for older adults
  2. All adults aged 65 years and over
  3. People aged 6 months to 64 years in a clinical risk group
  4. Frontline health and social care workers
  5. People aged 12 to 64 years who live with someone who is immunosuppressed
  6. People aged 16 to 64 years who are carers and staff working in care homes for older adults

Clinical risk groups include individuals with chronic respiratory, heart, kidney, or liver diseases, diabetes, immunosuppression, severe mental illness, pregnancy, and morbid obesity. Unlike last year’s booster rollout, which included all individuals aged over 50, this year’s focus is on over-65s.

Who Can Get the Jab Now?

Care home residents for older adults and housebound individuals are currently being prioritized due to their increased susceptibility to severe illness from Covid. They will start receiving their booster jabs from today.

When Can Other Groups Get Vaccinated?

Starting from September 18, the NHS will invite more groups to get their booster shots. The rollout will prioritize individuals at the highest risk of severe illness and gradually include lower-risk groups. Some individuals may be able to receive the jab earlier through their GP or local NHS service.

How Can I Book a Jab?

The NHS will contact eligible individuals and provide instructions on how to book their booster jabs. From September 18, these groups can book their appointments through the NHS website, NHS App, or by calling 119.

Which Vaccines Are Being Used?

The Covid vaccines manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Sanofi/GSK will be utilized in the autumn campaign. These vaccines have been updated to enhance their effectiveness against new Covid variants.

Why Was the Booster Rollout Brought Forward?

The start date of the Covid booster rollout was brought forward as a precautionary measure following the discovery of the Pirola variant (scientifically known as BA.2.86) in the UK. By accelerating the rollout, officials aim to bolster protection for those at greatest risk, alleviate pressure on the NHS, and mitigate the potential impact of the variant. While specific symptoms of BA.2.86 are yet to be determined, its predecessor BA.2 displayed signs such as runny nose, sore throat, and fatigue.

Why Should I Get a Covid Booster?

The NHS strongly encourages eligible individuals to get their autumn booster vaccine without delay. The BA.2.86 variant poses significant concern due to its high level of mutation compared to other circulating variants. The booster vaccine enhances protection against severe illness, hospitalization, and death from Covid, especially as cases are expected to rise during the winter. Even individuals who have already had previous Covid jabs or infections should come forward for a booster as immunity diminishes over time. Last year, people who received the autumn booster were 53% less likely to be admitted to the hospital with Covid within a month compared to those who didn’t receive a dose.

Steve Russell, NHS England Director of Vaccinations and Screenings, emphasized the importance of adapting the program and urged eligible individuals to come forward for their booster. Dr. Mary Ramsay, head of immunization at the UKHSA, reiterated that the vaccine provides the best protection against serious illness and hospitalization from Covid and encouraged eligible individuals to get vaccinated and encourage others to do the same.

Can I Buy a Covid Booster?

Currently, it is not possible to purchase a Covid booster privately. While the UKHSA has expressed openness to the idea of making Covid vaccines available on the High Street, private availability is not expected until at least spring. This is because private vaccines would likely be administered using ready-filled syringes, whereas the NHS currently uses vials containing multiple doses.

What’s Happening with the Rollout in Other UK Nations?

In Scotland, the flu and Covid jab campaign has already begun, with appointments starting on September 4. Individuals over 50 and those with certain conditions will be offered the flu vaccination, while only those aged 65 and over and individuals with specific health conditions will be offered the Covid jab. The first appointments for combined flu and Covid vaccinations for individuals aged 65-74 and those at higher risk aged 12-64 will begin on September 18. Wales, like England, is commencing its autumn vaccine rollout from today, while Northern Ireland will officially initiate its program on September 18.


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