It’s part of the health service’s scheme to tackle the potential “twindemic” this winter – simultaneous infections of Covid and flu.
So, from Friday, anyone aged 50 or over – or who will turn 50 by March 31, 2023 – will be able to book their next Covid booster online or over the phone.
It comes after the successful booster scheme which rolled out last year and helped to reduce the severity of Omicron symptoms during the winter months.
More than seven million people aged 65 and over (along with those at risk) have already had their autumn Covid booster in just over a month.
Close to two million have already been delivered to those who were eligible last week alone, with a record number of sites offering the jab have opened in the last month.
Around 26 million people are eligible for an autumn Covid booster in total in England.
NHS Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard has said the roll out is already off to “flying start”, while heaping praise on the frontline workers.
She said: “We have invited twice as many people as we did last autumn and we have jabbed twice as many people as did last autumn.”
Those who will soon be eligible for a Covid booster, according to advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, include:
- Residents in care homes for older adults
- Staff working in care homes for older adults
- Frontline health and social care workers
- All adults aged 50 and over
- Anyone aged 5 to 49 in a clinical risk group
- Anyone aged 5 to 49 who lives with immunosuppressed people
- Anyone aged 16 to49 who are carers
Flu jabs will also be available to book online for those eligible under a new pilot scheme, with 200 new sites around the country.
People can still book flu jabs through their GPs or by walking into a participating pharmacy.
Around 33 million people in total will be eligible for the flu vaccine this year, including children who will receive the flu nasal spray.
A total list of people who are eligible for a free flu jab at the moment:
- People aged 50 and over
- Those aged between six months and 49 years with a specified health condition
- Some secondary school-aged children
- Two and three year-olds
- Pregnant women
- Primary school-aged children
- Those in care homes
- People who are carers and frontline health workers
- Frontline social care staff
- Household contacts of people with weakened immune systems
As chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency Dr Susan Hopkins said: “The double threat of widely circulating flu and Covid this year is a real concern, so it’s crucial that you take up the free flu vaccine as soon as possible if you are offered it.
“It will help protect you from severe flu this winter and even save your life.”
Steve Russell, NHS Director for Vaccinations and Screening explained: “Vaccinations are our strongest weapon against these viruses and NHS staff are once again doing all they can to protect the public.”
Some people might have to arrange two separate appointments for the covid vaccine and the flu vaccine, even though a lot of sites will administer them both.
Pritchard added: “it is vital to get your protection against both Covid and flu, so please come forward and book in when you can.”
More people are likely to get the flu this winter, due to decreased transmission throughout the pandemic. It can be life-threatening for some people.
It’s also important to get the vaccine for it because if you get flu and Covid at the same time, you may be seriously ill.