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Autumn Covid-19 booster jab to be offered to those aged 50-plus, healthcare workers and vulnerable groups

People aged 50 and over, along with healthcare workers and vulnerable groups are to be offered and autumn Covid booster, the government has announced.

The announcement from newly-appointed health secretary Steve Barclay came amid spiralling numbers of Covid-19 cases this summer and mounting pressure on NHS services.

Covid-19 boosters will be offered to those aged 50-plus this autumn.
Covid-19 boosters will be offered to those aged 50-plus this autumn.

Details are due to be set out ahead of the programme beginning in early autumn.

Mr Barclay said: “I have accepted the independent advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to offer an autumn Covid 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 five 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 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 or flu vaccine, I urge you to come forward as soon as you are invited by the NHS.”

Cambridge continues to have one of the highest reported Covid-19 infection rates in the country at 533.3 cases per 100,000 of population in the week to July 8. This equated to 667 cases, although the true number will be much higher, as it relies on people taking tests and reporting the results.

Four-fifths (80.2 per cent) of those aged 75 and over have taken up their spring booster.

Latest government figures showed that nationally between July 5 and 11, some 13,029 people went into hospital with coronavirus. This shows an increase of 18.1 per cent compared to the previous seven days.

There were 13,741 patients in hospital with coronavirus on July 13, including 274 in hospital beds with a mechanical ventilator.

Addenbrooke’s had 111 patients in hospital with Covid-19 on July 12, including five on ventilation, and Cambridge University Hospitals has reported significant numbers of staff being off due to Covid.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Our vaccination programme has been one of the fastest and most successful in the world. Because of our collective efforts, from our NHS who got those jabs in arms, to everyone who came forward to keep themselves and those around them safe, we were able to open up our country while protecting lives and livelihoods.

“Today we have confirmed the next phase in our booster programme to keep our defences strong over autumn and winter. Vaccines were our way out of this pandemic, and now they will make sure Covid can never haunt us in the same way again.”

There were 691 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test between July 2 and 8, up 32.6 per cent compared to the previous seven days.

Who will be eligible for a free flu jab in England?

The groups that are now eligible for the flu vaccine this coming season are:

  • all children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2022
  • all primary school aged children (from reception to Year 6)
  • those aged 6 months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups
  • pregnant women
  • those aged 65 years and over
  • those in long-stay residential care homes
  • carers
  • close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
  • frontline staff employed by the following types of social care providers without employer led occupational health schemes:
  • a registered residential care or nursing home
  • registered domiciliary care provider
  • a voluntary managed hospice provider
  • Direct Payment (personal budgets) or Personal Health Budgets, such as Personal Assistants

And later in the season:

  • All adults aged 50 to 64 years
  • Secondary school children in years 7, 8 and 9, who will be offered the vaccine in order of school year (starting with the youngest first)

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