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2 people walking together with the text: Get vaccinated. Get winter strong. Flu and Covid-19 vaccines reduce the risk of serious illness in winter months.

People who are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID will be invited to get their winter vaccinations starting this week.

People will be able to book their jabs through the NHS website, the NHS App or by calling 119.

Eligible groups may also be offered a vaccination by GP surgeries or other local NHS services.

Those eligible this year include

  • all adults aged 65 years and over
  • people aged 6 months to 64 years in a clinical risk group
  • frontline health and social care workers
  • people aged 12 to 64 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression
  • people aged 16 to 64 years who are carers and staff working in care homes for older adults

The vaccination programme for residents of adult care homes and people who are housebound began last week.

In the first few days of this year’s winter programme, nearly 11,000 people have already received their vaccinations.

As in previous years, the NHS will let people know when bookings open. Those eligible will be invited to book a vaccination appointment in priority order, starting with those at greatest risk, with the main programme expected to be completed by the end of October.

The NHS is encouraging people to get both COVID and flu vaccinations as soon as they can and not delay, due to the risk of a new COVID-19 variant and ahead of the winter period.

It is important for those who are eligible to top up their protection, even if they have had a vaccine or been ill with flu or covid before, as immunity wanes over time and these viruses change each year.

NHS staff have worked hard to prepare for the earlier start of the programme to make it as easy as possible for people to get protection. COVID vaccines will be available at a greatly-extended network of community pharmacies this winter, alongside clinics run by a majority of the primary care networks within West Yorkshire. Flu vaccines will also be available through local GP practices and pharmacies.

Last year, the NHS faced the ‘twindemic’ of flu and covid with high occupancy in hospitals and record pressure on staff, so plans for this winter are already underway.

Dr James Thomas, Medical Director for the NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board, said: “The NHS flu and COVID vaccination programmes have been very effective in protecting those at greatest risk and we will work at speed to ensure they are protected once again this year.

“With concerns arising over new COVID variants, it’s vital we adapt the programme and bring it forward for those most at risk, and so I strongly urge everyone eligible to come forward as soon as they can for this important protection in colder months.

“The vaccine continues to provide the best protection against serious illness and hospitalisation from COVID-19 so please make sure you get vaccinated when offered and encourage loved ones who are eligible to do the same”.

“NHS staff have worked hard to ensure services are ready for patients to get jabbed at an earlier stage so they can get their protection as soon as possible”.

Following guidance from the Chief Medical Officer and the UK Health Security Agency, NHS England brought forward its COVID and flu vaccination programme, which was due to start at the beginning of October.

The guidance was given following the emergence of the COVID variant BA.2.86, which is currently under assessment by UKHSA.

Last year, the NHS carried out its second biggest ever flu vaccination campaign, with more than 21 million flu vaccinations given to adults and children, while more than 17 million COVID jabs were delivered last winter.

Earlier this year, NHS England announced more than 86 million COVID vaccination appointments have been arranged using the NHS’s national online booking system since its launch two years ago.