COVID-19: autumn booster confirmed for front-line health staff

As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, autumn booster vaccination plan is expanded to include health and social care staff, to help reduce pressures on NHS

As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, autumn booster jab plans are expanded to health and social care staff to help reduce pressure on NHS

Photo of a nurse administering a booster jab to another nurse
Picture: Alamy

The government has confirmed that front-line health and social care workers will be offered a further COVID-19 vaccination in line with the latest recommendations from experts.

NHS England said plans for delivering the boosters, which will also be given to other vulnerable groups, will be finalised in the coming weeks.

NHS England hones autumn COVID-19 booster jab plans

The announcement comes as the number of COVID-19 infections continue to rise, with coronavirus-related deaths also going up.

Cases have been increasing across the country since the start of June, driven by the subvariants Omicron BA.4 and BA.5. Infections in the UK rose by nearly 800,000 in a week in mid-July, with some parts of the country nearing the record levels seen during the spring.

A total of 12,068 people with COVID-19 were admitted to hospital between 12 and 18 July.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s latest official advice is that booster jabs will help protect the most vulnerable from becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 this winter.

Everyone aged 50 and over will be offered the booster, as well as those aged 5-49 who are in clinical risk groups – such as pregnant women, unpaid carers and those who live with people who are immunosuppressed.

The committee said the vaccination should be offered to all front-line health and social care workers, including all staff working in care homes for older adults.

Booster programme will protect vulnerable and reduce NHS pressures

It said the aim should be to complete COVID-19 booster vaccinations by the start of December and stressed this should not disrupt or delay annual flu vaccinations, which have been extended to all over-50s and secondary school children in years 7, 8 and 9, as well as those most at risk.

COVID-19 and flu jabs could be offered at the same appointment, the committee suggested.

Health and social care secretary Steve Barclay said: ‘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.’

NHS Providers interim deputy chief executive and director of policy and strategy Miriam Deakin said: ‘It is helpful to have clarity over these important vaccination programmes. The recent sharp rises in COVID-19 infections and hospital admissions underline the continuing threat posed by the virus.’

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