Last reviewed 29 June 2022

New NHS England (NHSE) guidance has set out further details on the upcoming autumn Covid-19 booster programme, following the publication of interim advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) for the autumn, and how it intends to develop a future vaccination and immunisation strategy.

The guidance, Next Steps for Covid-19 Vaccination, states the JCVI’s current view is that this autumn, a Covid-19 vaccine should be offered to:

  • residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults

  • frontline health and social care workers

  • all those 65 years of age and over

  • adults aged 16 to 64 years in a clinical risk group.

Vaccination of other groups of people remains under consideration.

NHSE said GPs will be able to opt in to the delivery of vaccinations, but the programme must not rely too heavily on practices.

The primary objective of this autumn booster programme will be to augment population immunity and protection against severe Covid-19 disease, specifically hospitalisation and death, over winter 2022 to 2023. The next steps for Covid-19 vaccination will be considered in two phases:

  • completion of the spring booster campaign and vaccination offer to the end of August

  • planning for the delivery of an integrated autumn/winter campaign and responding to outbreaks.

By the end of June, the NHS will have invited and vaccinated those eligible for a spring booster, including those who turn 75 years old, are admitted to an older adult care home, or become immunosuppressed in June.

After 30 June, the ability of those eligible to book an appointment for a spring booster will be maintained, but systems are asked to ensure clinical conversations take place at the point of care about the optimal timing of a booster dose before the autumn vaccination programme.

There will probably be a minimum interval of 91 days between an individual’s last dose and an expected autumn vaccination offer. For this reason, those who enter care homes or turn 75 after 30 June are not eligible for further vaccination until the autumn programme begins, although newly immunosuppressed individuals should continue to be offered vaccination through the summer period.

The guidance reiterated that commissioners should plan to deliver autumn Covid-19 vaccines on a “minimum scenario for cohorts 1-6 and a maximum scenario of cohorts 1-9 without disruption to core health and care services, subject to final JCVI advice”. 

Contracts and full details about an “expressions of interest process” for community pharmacy and an “opt-in process” for general practice involvement in the Covid-19 vaccination programme from autumn 2022 will be published shortly.

Over the next few weeks, the Government will consult with GPs to hear their views on the core elements of the future vaccination and immunisation service and how it can design a future model that will maximise uptake, reduce unwarranted variation and help people protect themselves and their families.

Information on the flu immunisation programme for 2022 to 2023 was published in a letter dated 22 April 2022, available from the Government website; the NHSE guidance is available at www.england.nhs.uk.