Covid booster rollout of dual-strain jab to start on 5 September

·3 min read
Around 26 million people are to be offered a Covid jab as part of the autumn booster programme (Getty)
Around 26 million people are to be offered a Covid jab as part of the autumn booster programme (Getty)

The rollout of the UK’s dual-strain Covid vaccine is set to start on 5 September, the NHS has announced, as it prepares to give boosters to millions of Britons ahead of winter.

Some 26 million people are to be offered a Covid jab as part of the autumn booster programme, including all over-50s and those with compromised immune systems.

Care-home residents and people who are housebound will be vaccinated first during the week of 5 September, before the rollout is widened the following week to the over-75s and those susceptible to serious illness.

Moderna’s dual-strain vaccine, which offers protection against the original Covid virus that emerged in Wuhan as well as the Omicron variant, is expected to be administered to half of those eligible for a booster.

The NHS said it will offer the so-called “bivalent” vaccine to people where appropriate, and subject to sufficient supply being made available to the health service.

The generic Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will also be offered as a booster, along with the Novavax jab in exceptional cases, according to the UK Health Security Agency.

As many as 3,000 sites are expected to be part of the rollout, including GP practices and community pharmacies, the NHS said.

People will be contacted when it is their turn to book an appointment for a booster. Eligible individuals may be offered the flu and Covid jabs at the same time, with the vaccines approved to be co-administered.

Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the NHS, said: “Our fantastic NHS staff have worked incredibly hard to deliver 126 million doses to date, and behind the scenes they have once again been preparing to deliver the latest phase with the same speed and precision as we have had throughout the rollout.

“When the time comes, I would strongly encourage anyone who is invited to take up both an autumn booster and flu jab to do so as quickly as possible – it will give you maximum protection this winter.”

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All over-50s and frontline health workers will be offered a booster jab, as will those aged five to 49 who are deemed clinically at risk, including pregnant women and household contacts of people with compromised immune systems.

For people aged 75 and over, this will be the fifth Covid jab, as they have already received a spring booster. For the over-50s, it will be the fourth dose.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has said it will review the use of any additional vaccines that are redesigned to target multiple forms of the Covid virus.

Pfizer is in the process of reformulating its current vaccine to target the Omicron variant.

Steve Russell, NHS director for vaccinations and screening, said: “This winter will be the first time we see the real effects of both Covid and flu in full circulation as we go about life as normal, and so it is vital that those most susceptible to serious illness from these viruses come forward for the latest jab in order to protect themselves.”