A million North East patients eligible for autumn Covid booster jab

Covid jab
The Covid autumn booster is being rolled out alongside the flu vaccine for many patients across the North East. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Up to a million Covid booster jabs are expected to be given to North East patients as the region's seasonal vaccination drive gets underway.

It is the latest stage of the programme which began in December 2020 and, this time, focuses on people seen as most at risk from the virus.

All patients aged 65 and above are currently being invited for their jab along with key groups such as frontline health and care workers and those with weakened immunity.

Who is eligible for an autumn Covid booster jab?

  • People aged 65 and over are currently being invited

  • Those aged 50 and above will receive an invite in the coming weeks

  • Vaccinations are taking place in care homes for older people

  • Frontline health and care workers, patients who are pregnant and those with weakened immunity are also eligible

In the North East, the autumn booster programme is being spearheaded by GP practices and community pharmacies.

It is being run in parallel with the seasonal flu vaccine drive meaning that some, but not all, patients will receive both vaccines during the same visit.

The NHS is urging people to wait to receive their invitation, and not to simply turn up at a vaccination unit.

It says letters are being sent out, allowing people to book online or by phoning 119 to make an appointment.

Alternatively, some GP practices will be in touch with their patients directly.

Patient Marion Longbottom receives her autumn Covid booster jab. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

At The Village Green Surgery in Wallsend, the seasonal vaccination programme is well underway.

Practice nurse manager Paula Culverhouse is on the frontline.

She told us: "Lots of people have already been vaccinated before with Covid.

"We know that the vaccine wanes as time goes on, it's not as effective, so this autumn booster's really important to boost your immunity to Covid."

Patient Marion Longbottom said: "It's important because it hasn't gone away and I don't want to catch it, basically. Same as I always have the flu jab, and if it saves you from being ill then it's worth it."

An updated Covid vaccine is being used as part of the autumn booster programme Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

At this practice, patients are being offered an updated version of the Covid vaccine, following its approval for use in the UK just weeks ago.

Known as the bivalent vaccine, it targets both the original strain of the virus and the more recent Omicron variant.

Coupled with the seasonal flu vaccination programme, the aim is to boost the collective defences of the North East population, and ensure communities are as prepared for winter as possible.

North East vaccination programme lead, Professor Neil Watson said: "We're particularly trying to protect the most vulnerable in our population.

"We know that the most vulnerable are the ones who are most likely to suffer the consequences of either Covid or flu which is why we've got the programme there to support double defence, both for flu and for Covid."

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