Practices and other providers have been asked to prepare for this year’s spring Covid vaccine booster programme which should begin on 17 April and end on 30 June.
The campaign will offer booster vaccinations to those aged 75 and over, residents in care homes, and those aged five and over who are immunosuppressed.
Steve Russell, national director for vaccinations at NHS England, wrote on Friday to all GP practices, ICBs, trust chief executives and others to set out the key principles of their spring booster planning.
He asked regional NHS teams to work with ICBs to run a ‘light-touch and rapid process’ to identify which sites can deliver the service, and confirmed that enhanced service specifications for GPs and community pharmacies will be published shortly.
The letter also highlights the importance of combating health inequalities: ‘Systems, working across their partnerships, must ensure equity of access and reduce unwarranted variation across communities through engagement activities to improve confidence and promote uptake, supported by appropriate access.’
During the autumn campaign 17 million Covid-19 boosters and over 20 million flu vaccines were delivered alongside maintaining routine immunisation programmes.
This extra booster vaccine dose in spring, as well as the groups who are eligible, is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Following this campaign, GPs and other providers should also prepare for an additional booster dose in autumn 2023, NHS England said.
The letter confirmed NHS England will manage booking of the spring booster via both local and national invites, and the National Booking System will open on 5 April.
Vaccination of adults in care homes will begin before the official start of the campaign, with NHS England asking systems to begin visits on 3 April.
Systems have also been asked to return plans to their regional colleagues by 10 March, and NHS England will shortly confirm the funding envelope for ‘costs associated with mobilisation’.
According to the letter, a longer-term plan for the vaccination strategy is being drawn up and will be published at some point this year.