The emergence of a new Covid variant has prompted NHS England to bring forward its winter vaccination programme.
The adult Covid and flu campaign was originally scheduled to commence in October to maximise protection over the winter, but, following expert guidance on the BA.2.86 variant, the health service has accelerated its timeline so those most at risk will be vaccinated from the 11th of September.
This will include the immunosuppressed and residents of older adult care homes.
The UK Health Security Agency’s chief executive, Professor Dame Jenny Harries, said that as we continue to live with Covid, experts expect new variants to emerge, but the success of the vaccine programme means there are “broad immune defences” throughout the population.
“There is limited information available at present on BA.2.86 so the potential impact of this particular variant is difficult to estimate,” explained Prof Dame Harries.
“As with all emergent and circulating COVID-19 variants – both in the UK and internationally – we will continue to monitor BA.2.86 and to advise government and the public as we learn more.”
In a bid to support the acceleration, vaccine providers will receive an additional payment of £10 for each Covid vaccination to care home residents between the 11th of September and the 22nd October.
This will be further backed by a one-off £200 for each completed care home by the same end date.
A similar £5 payment will be made to providers for every vaccination delivered to other eligible groups between the 11th of September and the 31st of October.
Image credit: iStock