The NHS national booking system for spring Covid-19 vaccination bookings via pharmacies in England is now open.

Those eligible to book appointments are able to do so for next week. They include adults aged 75 or over as of 30 June 2024, residents in care homes for older adults, and individuals who are immunosuppressed.

The eligibility for a spring vaccination is similar to previous years except those with a weakened immune system are now eligible from six months instead of five years.

NHS England (NHSE) has advised there are ‘thousands of appointments available every day’ across the country via pharmacies and general practices, with walk-in sites listed online.

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) surveillance data on last year’s spring vaccination programme showed that those who received a vaccine were around 50% less likely to be admitted to hospital with Covid-19 for three to four months after vaccination, compared to those who did not receive one.

Dr Mary Ramsay, UKHSA director of immunisations, said: ‘We are still seeing Covid-19 causing hospitalisations and severe illness particularly among older people and those with weakened immune systems and the vaccine provides the best protection.’

In February, pharmacies providing the Covid-19 vaccine were asked by NHSE to extend their service provision contracts until 31 August 2024, covering the spring programme.

While the fee for the extension period remains at £7.54 per vaccination, NHSE agreed that an additional payment of £2.50 per administered vaccine would be paid for the spring campaign.

According to Company Chemists’ Association analysis, based on data from NHS England and Freedom of Information requests, community pharmacies administered more than 40 million Covid-19 vaccinations by the end of 2023 – a quarter (24.85%) of all Covid-19 vaccines up to that date.

Today will also see the start of visits to older adult care homes and eligible household patients for Covid-19 booster jabs.

NHSE is also encouraging those eligible to get the shingles vaccine, which is recommended for all adults turning 65, those aged 70 to 79, and those aged 50 and over with a severely weakened immune system.