Flu and COVID-19 boosters for frontline healthcare workers brought forward

The autumn vaccination programme in England will now begin on 11 September

Image shows a blue gloved hand injecting a clear substance into a vial
Getty/ Sean Anthony Eddy

Flu and COVID-19 booster vaccinations for frontline healthcare workers in England will be available from 11 September, the AOP has advised members.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) made the announcement on 30 August, after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advised that frontline healthcare workers should be offered a COVID-19 booster vaccine in autumn 2023.

The precautionary measure is being taken as UKHSA scientists examine the COVID-19 variant BA.2.86.

Optometrists, dispensing opticians and practice staff are encouraged to keep up to date with all relevant vaccinations, including flu and COVID-19 boosters, the AOP said, in a joint statement with ABDO, FODO, and the College of Optometrists.

Frontline healthcare workers, including optometrists, will be contacted by the local vaccination services to arrange an appointment for their COVID-19 booster.

Those who fall into high-risk groups are being encouraged to take up the jab as soon as they are invited.

Practices should ensure that their team members have access to the flu vaccination by contacting their local pharmacy or occupational health provider, the AOP said.

The association added that sector bodies are calling on NHS England to fund the flu vaccination, but that at this stage contractors or their practices will have to cover costs themselves.

The AOP also reminded members that practice staff should be supported in maintaining infection control procedures, including ensuring hand hygiene, using personal protective equipment when required, and ensuring that surfaces are disinfected after every patient visit.

Members should keep up to date with information being shared by the UKHSA, the statement added.