To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the impact of narrowing the eligibility criteria for influenza vaccination and the JCVI's advice to reduce the age cohort for the autumn covid-19 booster programme; and whether that change would place increased pressure on NHS capacity during the winter season.
On 15 July 2022, the Government provided an update on the COVID-19 autumn booster programme and flu vaccination programme. This included the expansion of the eligibility criteria for flu vaccinations to be offered to all adults aged 50 years old and over and secondary school children in Years 7, 8, and 9 in England. These additional groups will be eligible once the most vulnerable, including previously announced pre-school and primary school children, those aged 65 years old and over and those in clinical risk groups have been offered the vaccination. This expansion aims to reduce the level of serious illness and subsequent pressure on the National Health Service. the Government accepted the JCVI’s advice to offer an autumn booster vaccination to increase immunity in those at higher risk from COVID-19 and protect against severe illness, hospitalisation and death in winter 2022/23. The booster dose will be offered to residents and staff in a care home for older adults; all adults aged 50 years old and over; those aged five to 49 years old in a clinical risk group or who are household contacts of someone with immunosuppression; frontline health and social care workers; and carers aged 16 years old and over. This aims to increase immunity in those at higher risk from COVID-19 and protect against severe illness, hospitalisation and death in winter 2022/23.