Flu and COVID autumn vaccine programmes brought forward

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has taken the decision to start earlier than planned as a precautionary measure

aop logo          ABDO logo

    FODO logoCollege of Optometrists logo

The UKHSA has announced that 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 the UKHSA examine the variant BA.2.86.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has advised that frontline healthcare workers should be offered a COVID-19 booster vaccine in autumn 2023. As frontline healthcare workers, dispensing opticians, optometrists and practice staff are encouraged to keep up to date with all relevant vaccinations including influenza and the COVID-19 booster vaccinations.

Access to the COVID-19 booster

In order to access the COVID-19 booster all practice staff will be contacted by the local vaccination services to arrange an appointment. Vaccinations are set to start on 11 September 2023, with adult care home residents and those most at risk to receive vaccines first. NHS England will announce full details of the accelerated roll-out soon, and those who fall into higher-risk groups are being encouraged to take up the jab as soon as they’re invited.

Access to the influenza vaccine 

Practices (contractors) should make arrangements with their local pharmacy or occupational health provider so that all members of the practice team have access to the influenza (seasonal flu) vaccination in a timely manner. Sector bodies have called on NHS England to fund this and will continue to do so, but at this stage contractors and locums will have to fund this directly.

Other ICP measures

As with any period of increasing infection, it is important to support team members to maintain high standards of infection control procedures (ICP) and minimise the risk posed by infection control complacency. To help minimise the risk of transmission of flu and COVID-19 this autumn.

  • Ensure scrupulous hand hygiene
  • Follow the correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE) when required
  • Ensure good surface disinfection after every patient episode
  • Keep up to date with information from the UKHSA

The best way to prepare for seasonal illness this autumn is to avoid any complacency and champion best ICP practice to ensure a continued safe working environment and in turn a safe place for patients to access their eyecare.

Produced in collaboration with ABDO, FODO and the College of Optometrists.

Helpful links