September 20, 2023

Wakefield District winter vaccine programme gets underway

People who are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID are being invited to get their winter vaccinations.

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 across West Yorkshire.

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.

Chris Skelton, Senior Responsible Officer for the Vaccination Programme in Wakefield District, said: “Thanks to the NHS COVID vaccination programme, people in Wakefield District have had widespread protection from COVID and its variants – a remarkable achievement.

“However, COVID is still circulating and can be very serious for some people so I would encourage anyone who is eligible to book an appointment.”

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 the UK Health Security Agency (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.

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