Flu and Covid autumn vaccine programmes brought forward
This year’s autumn flu and COVID-19 vaccine programmes will start earlier than planned in England as a precautionary measure following the identification of a new COVID-19 variant.
The precautionary measure is being taken as scientists from UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) examine the variant BA.2.86, which was first detected in the UK on Friday 18 August.
According to the latest risk assessment by the UKHSA, BA.2.86 has a high number of mutations and has appeared in several countries in individuals without travel history.
While BA.2.86 is not currently classified as a variant of concern, advice from the UKHSA suggests that speeding up the autumn vaccine programme will deliver greater protection, supporting those at greatest risk of severe illness and reducing the potential impact on the NHS.