MILLIONS of Brits have been urged to book their Covid jab, as the autumn booster campaign kicks off.
Vaccines started being dished out to care home residents and people who are housebound last week and vulnerable groups in England are being invited to the take up the lifesaving jabs today.
The rollout was brought forward after the rapid emergence the highly mutated BA.2.86 strain sparked fears of a surge of infections and hospital admissions.
It comes as nearly half of the world’s confirmed cases of the new ‘Pirola’ Covid variant were found in the UK.
The mutated strain was also behind an outbreak in a care home in Norwich.
There is currently no evidence to suggest Pirola causes any new or more severe symptoms than other Omicron variants.
NHS England (NHSE) said 20 million Brits will be eligible to get their Covid-19 booster today.
- people aged 65 and over
- pregnant women
- people with underlying health conditions
- care home residents
- frontline health and care staff
- unpaid carers
- household contacts of those at risk
Vaccination for people under the age of 18 will begin later in the year, NHSE said, adding that it would inform families of the date.
If you’re now eligible, you can book your jab on the NHS website, the NHS app or by calling 119 – it only takes a few minutes.
GP practices and other local NHS services will also be contacting people to offer Covid vaccines and it’s likely you’ll be invited to have a flu jab at the same time.
NHS Director for vaccinations and screening Steve Russell 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.”
He urged eligible groups to come forward and book their vaccine as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at UKHSA, said: “We are already seeing a slow rise in cases of COVID-19, as well as increases in hospitalisations, particularly among the over 75s.
“Older people and those in clinical risk groups remain at higher risk of severe illness, so it’s important all those eligible come forward when offered and get protected against flu and COVID.”