London: The UK health authorities began rolling out their winter vaccine schedule for the most medically vulnerable on Monday (September 11), brought forward from a planned early October rollout amid concerns around the new COVID variant BA.2.86. The National Health Service (NHS) said residents of older adult care homes and people who are housebound will begin receiving their COVID and flu vaccinations from this week and other high risk groups will begin to be invited to get their “top up protection” ahead of winter from next week.
While the variant, BA.2.86, has not been classified as a “variant of concern” by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), it is being monitored closely due to its proclivity to mutate.
Dr Renu Bindra, an Indian-origin Incident Director for the UKHSA said,
While BA.2.86 has a significant number of mutations to the viral genome compared to other currently circulating COVID-19 variants, the data so far is too limited to draw firm conclusions about the impact this will have on the transmissibility, severity or immune escape properties of the virus. It is clear that there is some degree of widespread community transmission, both in the UK and globally, and we are working to ascertain the full extent of this. In the meantime, it remains vital that all those eligible come forward to receive their autumn vaccine as soon as it is offered to them.
NHS England said it is rolling out its adult COVID and annual flu vaccination programmes in tandem following pressures it faced with a “twindemic” of flu and COVID resulting in high occupancy in hospitals and record pressure on staff last year. It stressed the importance for those who are eligible to top up their protection, even if they have had a vaccine or been ill with flu or COVID-19 before, as immunity wanes over time and the viruses change each year.
Steve Russell, NHS Director of Vaccinations and Screening said,
With concerns arising over new COVID variants, it’s vital we adapt the programme and bring it forward for those most at risk, and so I strongly urge everyone eligible to come forward as soon as they can for this important protection in colder months.
Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at UKHSA added,
Older people and those in clinical risk groups remain at highest risk of serious illness from COVID-19…The vaccine continues to provide the best protection against serious illness and hospitalisation from COVID-19, so please make sure you get vaccinated when offered and encourage loved ones who are eligible to do the same.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – theLGBTQ population,indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the currentCOVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water,SanitationandHygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fightmalnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health,adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues likeair pollution,waste management,plastic ban,manual scavengingand sanitation workers andmenstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India wheretoiletsare used andopen defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched byPrime Minister Narendra Modiin 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.