The NHS has warned people in England that they only have a few weeks left to book an appointment to receive a "potentially lifesaving" Covid and/or flu vaccine. 

Booking systems for the vaccinations in England are set to close in the coming weeks and the NHS has urged those eligible to book, with hundreds of thousands of appointments still available.

The NHS said: "Vaccination is the best way for people to ensure they and their families are protected against flu and Covid at Christmas, when viruses spread more easily as people spend more time indoors."

A total of 11,404,669 Covid and 16,190,661 flu vaccinations have been administered by the NHS in England since the beginning of the autumn campaign.

A record 4.5 million people have received their flu and Covid vaccines in the same appointment.

Bournemouth Echo: More than 11 million Covid and 16 million flub vaccinations have been carried out in England since the beginning of the autumn campaign.More than 11 million Covid and 16 million flub vaccinations have been carried out in England since the beginning of the autumn campaign. (Image: PA)

When do booking systems for Covid and flu vaccinations close?

Booking systems to arrange an appointment for a Covid or flu vaccination will close on December 15, making December 14 the last day to book.

It is still possible to book vaccinations after December 15 through local NHS vaccination services, like pharmacies or walk-in sites.

However, there will be fewer Covid appointments, and people may need to travel further, the NHS warned.

National director for vaccinations and screening for NHS England, Steve Russell, said: “It only takes a few moments to book your flu and Covid vaccines online – with thousands of eligible people having already taken up the offer this year and record numbers booking via the NHS app – but with just two weeks to go until online bookings close, we’re urging those who haven’t yet come forward to do so.

“NHS staff continue to deliver vaccines at more sites than ever before, and we’ve seen record numbers choosing to have their flu and Covid vaccines at the same time, making it even easier for people.”

Consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA, Dr Jamie Lopez Bernal, added: “Getting vaccinated as soon as possible will help reduce your risk of getting seriously ill with flu or Covid this festive season.

“So in amongst getting sorted for Christmas, make time to prioritise your health by getting vaccinated.”

Who is eligible for a Covid or flu vaccine?

Covid vaccination

You, or your child, are eligible for a Covid vaccination in England, according to the NHS website, if:

  • You are aged 65 years old or over
  • Aged 6 months to 64 years old and are at increased risk
  • Living in a care home for older adults
  • A frontline health or social care worker
  • Aged 16 to 64 years old and are a carer
  • Aged 12 to 64 years old and live with someone with a weakened immune system

Flu vaccination

You are eligible for the free NHS flu vaccine, according to their website, if you:

  • Are aged 65 or over (including if you will be 65 by March 31, 2024)
  • Have certain long-term health conditions
  • Are pregnant
  • Live in a care home
  • Are the main carer for an older or disabled person, or receive a carer's allowance
  • Live with someone who has a weakened immune system
  • Frontline health and social care worker (are able to get a flu vaccine through their employer)

The following children in England are able to get the free nasal spray flu vaccine on the NHS:

  • Those aged 2 or 3 years on August 31, 2023
  • All primary school children (Reception to Year 6)
  • Some secondary school-aged children (Year 7 to Year 11)
  • Children aged 2 to 17 years with certain long-term health conditions

The NHS urged parents especially to ensure that eligible children are protected against the flu with the nasal spray vaccine, as they are at a higher risk of catching and spreading the virus.

If caught, it can lead to serious problems like bronchitis and pneumonia, the NHS warned.