Covid booster vaccinations offered to all over-50s to ward off winter crisis

It is hoped this will give those at higher risk of serious illness the protection they need and keep more people out of the hospital.

Others allowed another dose, including residents of a care home for older adults and staff, frontline health and social workers and people aged five to 49 in a clinical risk group – including pregnant women.

Older groups will be prioritized first, similar to previous rollouts.

Pressure on the NHS

dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunization at UKHSA, said: “The extension of eligibility for the flu vaccine will help reduce the number of people falling seriously ill and ease pressure on the NHS, particularly during the busy winter period.

“It is also important that everyone who is eligible for the Covid-19 refresher, if invited, gets the vaccination, including pregnant women who are in the risk groups.”

dr Ramsay urged pregnant women to come in for their refresher.

Professor Anthony Harnden, Vice-Chair of the JCVI, said: “The Covid-19 boosters are highly effective at boosting immunity and we hope that by offering a further dose to those at higher risk of serious illness this autumn we will can significantly reduce the risk of hospitalizations and deaths in winter.”

Boris Johnson, the outgoing Prime Minister, said the next phase of the booster program will “keep our defenses strong through the autumn and winter”.

He said: “Vaccines have been our way out of this pandemic and now they will ensure that Covid can never haunt us in the same way again.”

Eligibility for a free flu shot this fall has also been extended.

Socializing indoors ‘increases risk of infection’

The Department of Health and Social Care will offer the free flu vaccine to more groups once the vaccine has been offered to the most vulnerable, including previously announced pre-school and primary school children, those aged 65 and over and those in clinical risk groups.

The additional groups will be all adults aged 50 to 64 and secondary school children aged 7, 8 and 9 who will be offered the vaccine in school year order.

Mr Barclay said: “Viruses spread more easily in the colder seasons when people gather indoors so the risk of catching Covid is higher. It is absolutely essential that the most vulnerable groups get a booster vaccine to boost their immunity to serious diseases over the winter to protect themselves and ease the pressure on the NHS.

“The flu virus could also be highly contagious at this time of year, so today I’m also announcing that free flu shots this year will be available to everyone aged 50 and over, primary and secondary school children in 7th 8th and 9th, and those in clinical risk groups, unpaid Caregivers and household contacts of immunocompromised people.

“If you or your child are eligible for a Covid or flu vaccine I urge you to come forward as soon as you are invited by the NHS.”

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