A spring Covid-19 vaccination campaign for around five million of the most vulnerable people in England begins today with a programme prioritising care home residents.
The latest phase of the Covid-19 vaccination programme will target over 75s, those with a weakened immune system, and older adult care home residents.
Those living in care homes will be ‘prioritised’, NHS England has said, and will begin to receive vaccinations from today from roving NHS teams.
Others eligible will be able to book a vaccination appointment on the National Booking Service or via the NHS App from Wednesday 5 April. The first appointments available will be from the week commencing Monday 17 April.
Patients will be able to receive vaccinations from around 3,000 sites across England with the majority of immunisations being delivered by GPs and pharmacies in the community.
This comes as the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) brings routine asymptomatic Covid-19 testing services in care homes to an end. From April 1 residents and staff in adult social care settings could no longer receive asymptomatic testing through the NHS in order to make testing ‘further aligned with the management of other common respiratory infections’.
NHS Director of vaccinations and screening, Steve Russell, said: ‘As a society we are learning to live with Covid but for many it is still a virus that can cause serious illness and hospitalisation, and so it is still really important that those at greatest risk come forward and boost their protection in the coming weeks.
‘There are still around 8,000 people in hospital with Covid according to the latest data, and the NHS has now treated more than one million Covid inpatients since the pandemic began.’
This vaccine programme will also be the first in which patients will be sent initial invitations for their jabs through the NHS App – where they will also be able to book appointments. However, text messages and letters will still be sent to those who do not actively use the app.
Steve Barclay, health and social care secretary, said: ‘Our successful vaccination programme has helped us all to live with Covid, saved thousands of lives and protected the most vulnerable from serious disease.
‘We’re committed to giving vulnerable people the protection they need from the virus, so I want to encourage those who are 75 or over or who have a weakened immune system to book their booster jab from Wednesday.’
The last spring vaccination appointments will be offered on 30 June.