Brought forward a month, the September start date follows an announcement by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) on the risks presented by the new BA.2.86 variant and pre-emptive measures the NHS has been asked to take.
The adult covid and flu vaccination programmes had been due to start in October to maximise protection over the winter months, but now those most at risk including adult care home residents will be vaccinated from Monday 11th September.
NHS GM has been asked to bring the programme forward and will be working quickly to ensure as many eligible people as possible are vaccinated between the 11th September and the end of October. In order to protect our most vulnerable and limit the pressure on our NHS services.
Residents of older adult care homes and the housebound will receive their covid vaccine first.
The immunosuppressed, carers, pregnant women, adults under 65 identified as clinically at risk due to health conditions, and health and social care staff will all be among the groups to be offered a covid jab this winter, as well as adults aged 65 and over.
Eligible people will receive an invite from their local GP and pharmacy or via national texts and letters, but don’t wait if you are eligible and there is availability.
From Monday 18th September, NHS GM will start to invite people in priority order of risk and those eligible will be able to book an appointment on the National Booking Service.
The winter flu and COVID-19 vaccination programme provides vital protection to those eligible and their families over winter, keeping people from developing serious illnesses, and helping to minimise hospitalisations during busy winter months.
Wherever possible, vaccinations for flu and COVID-19 will be offered at the same time – making it easier and more convenient for people to get vital protection from both viruses ahead of winter.
Dr Helen Wall, Clinical Director for Population Health at NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care said: “Vaccinations are our best defence against flu and COVID-19 ahead of what could be a very challenging winter – and the rise of the new COVID variant makes them even more important than ever.
“That’s why I urge anyone who is eligible for the winter vaccinations to please come forward as soon as possible to ensure they have the protection they need to fight these viruses.
“In line with the latest expert advice, we’ll now be starting vaccination earlier than originally planned and NHS teams across Greater Manchester will be doing everything they can to accelerate delivery of the programme to ensure as many eligible people as possible are vaccinated by the end of October.
“There will be many sites all over Greater Manchester offering both flu and COVID-19 vaccinations, so we encourage where relevant and available that people have both together as it is perfectly safe and will help maximise the number of people fully vaccinated.”
It is important that those eligible this year come forward for their vaccinations as protection fades over time, and the virus that causes flu and COVID can change from year to year.
Adult flu and COVID-19 appointments will be available through the NHS App and website from the 18th September, or by calling 119 for those who can’t get online. Flu vaccines will also be available through local GP practices and pharmacies.
There will be no change to flu vaccinations for children which will be offered in schools from early next month, to prevent children from getting seriously ill from flu and ending up hospital, and to break the chain of transmission of the virus to the wider population.
The nasal flu vaccine is the most effective vaccine for children aged 2-17 years but if this is not suitable the GP or practice nurse may be able to offer a flu vaccine injection as an alternative.
NHS GM is particularly keen to vaccinate children aged 2-3 years early on for flu, due to the high number of hospitalisations in under 5s with flu last year.
Health and social care workers are also eligible for the winter vaccines and encouraged to come forward as soon as they can to ensure they are protected when at work.
In line with advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, those eligible for a flu vaccine this year include:
- those aged 65 years and over
- those aged 6 months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups (as defined by the Green Book, chapter 19 (Influenza))
- pregnant women
- all children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2023
- school-aged children (from Reception to Year 11)
- those in long-stay residential care homes
- 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 an employer led occupational health scheme including those working for a registered residential care or nursing home, registered domiciliary care providers, voluntary managed hospice providers and those that are employed by those who receive direct payments (personal budgets) or Personal Health budgets, such as Personal Assistants
Those eligible for an autumn covid vaccine 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, as laid out in the Immunisation Green Book, COVID-19 chapter (Green Book)
- frontline health and social care workers
- persons aged 12 to 64 years who are household contacts (as defined in the Green Book) of people with immunosuppression
- persons aged 16 to 64 years who are carers (as defined in the Green Book) and staff working in care homes for older adults.