NHS trails online booking for flu jabs for first time as COVID boosters available for over 50s

NHS trails online booking for flu jabs for first time as COVID boosters available for over 50s

The NHS in England is testing whether people can book their flu jabs online.

People successfully used the National Booking Service during the COVID vaccination programme – with those who were unable to get online being given alternative ways to book.

Now the service is trialling whether flu jabs can be booked in a similar fashion, with people at 200 sites across the country being offered the chance to book this way.

However, people can still book flu vaccinations through their GP practice or by visiting a pharmacy delivering the jabs.

Around 33 million people in England will be eligible for a flu vaccine this year, including some children who will be given the flu nasal spray.

It comes as the NHS is calling all over 50s forward for their COVID autumn booster. Online and phone bookings for a COVID booster will open for 12 million people aged 50 to 64 on Friday.

Since the booster programme started a month ago, seven million people have come forward for their vaccine.

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Some 26 million people are eligible for the COVID booster and people have been urged to get the jab amid a warning of a potential “twindemic” of flu and COVID.

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NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard said “the rollout is off to a flying start”, adding that it is vital to get protected against COVID and flu in what could be an “extremely challenging winter for the NHS”.

Steve Russell, director for vaccinations and screening, said more than seven million autumn COVID boosters have been administered so far.

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He is urging people between the ages of 50 and 64 to log on and book an appointment.

Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said: “The double threat of widely circulating flu and COVID this year is a real concern, so it’s crucial that you take up the free flu vaccine as soon as possible if you are offered it.

“It will help protect you from severe flu this winter, and even save your life.

“All those over 50 are now eligible for the jab, many of which will have low natural immunity due to COVID restrictions over the last two years.”