MILLIONS of Brits will start receiving their Covid jabs today amid fears of a back-to-school surge of the new “Pirola” variant.
Vaccines will be dished out to care home residents and people who are housebound, before other vulnerable groups are invited.
The rollout was brought forward because of the emergence of the highly mutated BA.2.86 strain, which caused an outbreak in a home in Norwich.
Health chiefs told The Sun eligible Brits should get their next dose to help protect them against the variant, especially with kids now back in classrooms.
Steve Russell, of NHS England, said: “Schools returning after a summer break can often lead to a spike in infections among children.
“With an outbreak of the most concerning variant since Omicron, it is essential that those eligible for a Covid jab protect themselves and the young people in their lives.
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“The NHS is speeding up preparations for the rollout of autumn’s Covid vaccination programme, so if you are eligible, it’s important to book when invited for your vaccination.
“It not only reduces your risk of getting seriously ill, it also reduces the chance of you passing it onto a loved one.”
There have been 34 confirmed cases of Pirola in England, with five patients admitted to hospital but no deaths.
Experts at the UK Health Security Agency say the strain is now spreading nationwide but they don't know if it will be worse than Omicron.
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The winter vaccination programme was brought forward from October to address concerns, while scientists scramble to investigate the strain.
Jabs will be offered to all over-65s, people in clinical risk groups and frontline health and social care workers in the coming weeks.
Dr Mary Ramsay, of UKHSA, said: “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.
“Please make sure you get vaccinated when offered and encourage loved ones who are eligible to do the same.”
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