People aged over 65 are being urged to book in for their COVID autumn booster vaccine as hospital admissions for the disease reach its highest rate since April this year.
Several groups, including over-65s, carers and frontline workers are now eligible for the autumn COVID booster jab that can provide protection against getting severely ill with COVID-19.
It comes as the number of hospital admissions of patients testing positive for COVID has reached 4.6 per 100,000 people. Last winter it reached 11.8 per 100,000 at its peak.
Read more: Free NHS flu vaccinations available at Boots as winter programme brought forward (Yahoo Life UK, 6-min read)
Intensive care admissions of patients with COVID remain low, but the vaccine rollout is set to protect vulnerable people against the new BA.2.86 variant.
"The new COVID variant presents a new risk, but NHS staff are rising to the challenge once more to do all they can to protect the public," Steve Russell, NHS director for vaccinations and screening, said in a statement.
"Vaccines are our best protection against flu and COVID-19, and I strongly encourage all eligible people to come forward for their life-saving winter vaccines as soon as they can."
Who is eligible for a COVID autumn booster vaccine?
In August, the government unveiled its autumn booster jab rollout plan, and listed several groups who were eligible for the vaccine. These include:
Residents in care homes
All adults aged 65 and over
People in a clinical risk group (people with chronic diseases)
Frontline health and social care workers
Household contacts of people with immunosuppression
Carers and staff working in care homes for older adults
Read more: Differences between flu and COVID-19 symptoms as vaccine drive brought forward (Yahoo Life UK, 5-min read)
How to book your COVID booster vaccination
Autumn booster vaccinations began in England on 11 September, which was earlier than planned as a precautionary measure against the new COVID variant.
The government said that people who received an autumn booster jab in 2022 were 53% less likely to be admitted to hospital with COVID in the two to four weeks after receiving the booster than those who did not receive one.
Read more: COVID-19 and flu autumn vaccination drive brought forward as new variant emerges in UK (Sky News, 2-min read)
If you are part of an eligible group, you will be invited by your local healthcare provider to book a vaccination which you can do either through the National Booking Service site or by calling 119.
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