I have accepted the independent advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to offer an autumn COVID-19 booster to people aged 50 and over, residents and staff in care homes for older adults, frontline health and social care workers, unpaid carers, individuals aged 5 to 49 in clinical risk groups and household contacts of those who are immunosuppressed.
NHS staff and volunteers provided an outstanding service to the public through the biggest and fastest vaccination rollout in England’s history, which saved countless lives and allowed us to live with this virus without restrictions on our freedom.
Viruses spread more easily in the colder seasons with people socialising inside, so the risk of getting COVID-19 is higher. It is absolutely vital the most vulnerable groups receive a booster vaccine to strengthen their immunity against serious disease over winter to protect themselves and reduce pressure on the NHS.
The flu virus could also be highly infectious at this time of year, so today I am also announcing that those eligible for a free flu vaccination this year will include everyone aged 50 and over, primary school children and secondary school pupils in years 7, 8 and 9, as well as people in clinical risk groups, unpaid carers and household contacts of those who are immunosuppressed.
If you or your child are eligible for a COVID-19 or flu vaccine, I urge you to come forward as soon as you are invited by the NHS.
The programme is expected to start in early autumn. Details of how the programme will be delivered including how people will be invited for vaccination will be set out nearer the start of the programme.