From today, anyone eligible can book their Covid vaccinations via the NHS website, by downloading the NHS App on their smart phone, or by calling 119 for free.
Thousands of adults who are eligible for winter vaccines – including all aged 65 and over, pregnant women and those with an underlying health condition – will begin receiving invitations from the NHS to encourage them to get their Covid and flu jabs from this week.
GP practices and other local NHS services will also be contacting people to offer both flu and Covid vaccines, and people can book the flu vaccine by searching online for a local pharmacy.
In England, over 30 million people are eligible to receive a flu vaccine and over 20 million are able to get a Covid jab.
NHS England Regional Director for Commissioning and vaccination lead Roz Lindridge said: “Vaccines are our best protection against flu and Covid-19, and I strongly encourage all eligible people to come forward for their lifesaving winter vaccines as soon as they can.
“The new Covid variant presents a new risk, but NHS staff are rising to the challenge once more to do all they can to protect the public.
“Those eligible can now easily book a Covid vaccine online – it takes just a few minutes and there are more sites than ever before offering the vaccine across England, so please come forward as soon as you can to give yourself and your loved ones vital protection over the coming months.”
Covid vaccination for those aged under 18 years will begin later in the year – the NHS will let eligible families know when this offer opens.
This year’s adult Covid and flu vaccination programme has been brought forward on the advice of scientists following the emergence of a new Covid-19 variant (BA.2.86), which has a high number of mutations.
Health chiefs have ensured there is enough capacity to offer the flu and Covid vaccines to all those eligible by the end of October, reflecting the risk of the new variant.
Alongside this, NHS staff have worked hard to prepare for the earlier start of the programme, with almost 1,000 sites in the Midlands – more sites than ever before.
On 11 September, care home residents and people who are housebound began receiving their covid and flu vaccinations with visits from their local NHS team.
Last year, the NHS carried out its second biggest ever flu vaccination campaign, with more than 21 million flu vaccinations given to adults and children, while more than 17 million Covid jabs were delivered last winter.
Earlier this year, NHS England announced more than 86 million Covid vaccination appointments have been arranged using the NHS’s national online booking system since its launch two years ago.
More than 149 million Covid vaccines have been administered by NHS staff and volunteers since the first Covid-19 jab was delivered outside of clinical trials to Maggie Keenan in Coventry in December 2020.
Flu vaccination of children aged two to 17 has begun and the first invitations to parents of children aged two and three are also being sent today. Parents are being urged to fill out the consent forms for the nasal spray vaccine as soon as they can, which is administered at school and in GP surgeries.