COVID-19 Autumn booster and flu vaccine programme expansion

• ICB Chief Executive
• All GP practices
• All Community Pharmacies
• Primary Care Networks
• All Trust Chief Executives
• All Local Government Chief Executives
• All Health and Justice healthcare providers
• All Directors of Public Health
• Regional Directors
• Regional Directors of Commissioning

Dear Colleagues,

We are writing to set out next steps for the flu and COVID-19 vaccination programmes for Autumn and Winter following today’s Government announcement that confirmed additional cohorts will now be offered the flu vaccine and acceptance of JCVI advice for the COVID-19 booster dose.

COVID-19 Vaccine Autumn Booster
Final JCVI advice today confirms that the COVID-19 Autumn booster should be offered to the following groups:

• Residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults
• Frontline health and social care workers
• All adults aged 50 years and over
• Persons aged 5 to 49 years in a clinical risk group, as set out in the Green Book
• Persons aged 5 to 49 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression
• Persons aged 16 to 49 years who are carers, as set out in the Green Book.

A full copy of the advice can be found here.

We know that systems are well advanced with planning for operational delivery in line with the parameters set out in our letter dated 22 June. A copy of the letter can found here.

As operational delivery plans are finalised over the coming weeks, systems will need to ensure that all cohorts set out by the JCVI, especially children and young people aged between 5-15 years old who are at risk, are included in operational delivery plans.

Regions and systems should continue to work with providers to confirm which sites are able to vaccinate this group subject to meeting the relevant assurance requirements/checklists.

The final Community Pharmacy (CP) Enhanced Service Specification will be published shortly. Pharmacy contractors who have agreed participation in the Phase 5 Enhanced Service with their NHS England Regional Team should sign and return the copy of the contract supplied by their regional team in due course.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank those of you who have confirmed you would like to continue to participate in the Autumn programme and we are looking forward to working with you.

Expansion to the flu vaccine programme
The government has also announced that, in addition to flu vaccine cohorts previously set out in the annual flu letter 2022/23, the following cohorts will now be offered the free NHS flu vaccine to help protect more people and reduce admissions to hospital this winter.

To ensure those most at risk from COVID-19 and flu are protected first, the timing for offering the flu vaccine to these additional groups will be announced in due course, but is likely to be later in the flu season.

The additional groups announced today by Government are:

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). This group are likely to be offered vaccination later in the year once children age 2 and 3 and primary school age children have been vaccinated.
50 to 64 year olds that are not in a clinically at-risk group, who are likely to be offered vaccination later in the year once people that are more vulnerable to COVID-19 and flu, including those in clinically at-risk groups have been offered their vaccine.

The NHS will announce when people aged 50 to 64 years not in a clinical at risk will be able to book an appointment or request their free NHS flu vaccine.

The Department for Health and Social Care have confirmed with the manufacturers that additional vaccine for adult cohorts is being made available for local providers to access through their usual ordering processes.

Further operational guidance, a statement of amendment to the annual flu letter and a revised flu vaccine reimbursement letter will be shared shortly. Communication materials to support public messaging on the vaccine offer are in development and will also be available shortly.

Finally, thank you for your continued support in ensuring all our communities are offered the best possible protection this winter.

Yours sincerely,

Steve Russell
National Director for Vaccinations and Screening
NHS England